Students of Southeast Bulloch High School will gather Saturday to keep with tradition and experience the final highlight of their high school careers; they will graduate, too.
For a 20th consecutive year, parent volunteers will host a post-graduation, overnight event for the Brooklet school’s graduating seniors.
Project Graduation, a nationwide initiative providing students a drug and alcohol-free celebration on the night of commencement, will kick-off at 11 p.m. Saturday at The Clubhouse at Hackers.
“Project Graduation is an alcohol and drug-free night sponsored by parents and the community,” said Wendy Davis, Chairman of the Project Graduation Committee and parent of a graduating student. “This is the 20th year that we have had Project Graduation for Southeast Bulloch High School. We are the only school in the county that does it.”
“The kids really look forward to the event all year,” she said. “It is the last time the seniors get to be together, play, have fun and make memories together. It is a tradition at the school now.”
As an alternate to alcohol-laden field parties, the annual, all-night celebration encourages students to commemorate their big day with a night of games and activities in a safe atmosphere.
The event hopes to minimize risks associated with what law enforcement statistics show is one of the most dangerous nights in a young person’s life.
“The whole purpose of the night is to keep our kids in a safe place during a time when they could be on the road and possibly killed,” said Davis. “The kids sign a contract saying they will arrive drug and alcohol-free, and will commit to staying all night” – the event ends at 6 a.m. Sunday.
The Southeast Bulloch graduates will have an opportunity to bowl, play laser tag, arcade games and participate in various other activities, she said.
All games will reward students with “Jacket Bucks” that are used to bid on items in an auction at 4 a.m.
According to Davis, auction items — which were donated by local businesses and purchased with raised funds — include: televisions, iPods, refrigerators, fishing gear and more.
The auction will feature enough items for each attending senior to leave with at least one, she said.
To pay costs associated with event, the Project Graduation Committee collected more about $9,000 through private and business donations, and multiple items to be included in the auction.
“We feel like Project Graduation is a wonderful activity for kids to participate in,” said Joyce Stubbs, Director of the Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council — the council has supported the event since its inception. “The mission of the Alcohol and Drug Council is to sponsor anything that helps our youth grow in a community that supports a drug free lifestyle. The event definitely makes a difference in these kids’ lives.”
“[Project Graduation] provides participating students a drug and alcohol-free environment during a time when many young people are out celebrating irresponsibly,” said Spencer Beckum, Coordinator for the Drug Free Communities Support Program in Bulloch County, which donated $2,500 to the effort. “We hope that the event has an influence, and that the information imparted upon these kids carries with them as they enter their adult life.”
Thus far, 56 seniors — 86 kids overall (graduates may bring a school-approved guest) — have registered to participate in the event. About 20 more graduates are expected to register before Saturday, said Davis.
Individuals or businesses interested in making donations — money or auction items — can do so until the night of graduation by contacting Southeast Bulloch High School.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454.