Project Graduation keeps minors safe on once-in-a-lifetime night

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Newly graduation teens celebrate at a Project Graduation party. (submitted photo)

Dedicated to the well-being of the community and its residents, the Scottsdale Charros donated $15,000 to help high school seniors celebrate their graduation in a safe manner.

Project Graduation gives the jubilant young adults a place to celebrate their graduation with classmates all night without worrying about solo red cups or drunk drivers. These types of parties were first dubbed Project Graduation in the ‘80s as a way for high schoolers to celebrate their accomplishments in a drug- and alcohol-free environment.

Parent teacher organizations at each of Scottsdale’s five high schools organize the event by renting out a venue, planing hours of entertainment and food and providing transportation. The cost can reach up to $100 per student, said Saguaro Project Graduation co-chair and parent, Cheryl White.

“Every year the Scottsdale Charros support our cause,” said Ms. White in a June 1 phone interview. “We ask kids to pay $100 to attend but there are so many that can’t pay that $100.”

The money provided by the Charros goes toward helping those students attend the post-graduation party.

“This is a celebratory event for all seniors in all public schools and a unique event offering a healthy alternative for graduation seniors,” said Scottsdale Charros Education Committee Chairman Jason Heetland in a prepared statement.

“Since its inception in Scottsdale, Project Graduation has been successful in keeping graduates safe and the Scottsdale Charros want to keep that going.”

Immediately following graduation students who choose to attend will line up to be bussed over to the venue — for Saguaro High School’s students, the venue was kept a secret.

“We keep our location secret,” said Ms. White. “We think it kind of adds to the fun of it.”

Newly graduation teens celebrate at a Project Graduation party. (submitted photo)

Newly graduation teens celebrate at a Project Graduation party. (submitted photo)

Once they arrived at the location there were food trucks waiting for the teens. In addition some of the fun Project Graduation offered included a DJ, massages, henna tattoos, sand volleyball and casino games.

Around 2 a.m. a drawing was held with major prize giveaways. This year’s prizes included Apple Watches, MacBooks, TVs and college and work accessories.

At the end of the night the buses took students back to Saguaro where security guards were hired to watch the parking lot overnight.

Scottsdale’s five high schools host graduation on the same night, which results in a lot of excited teenagers out and about, said Ms. White.

“The goal is to keep the kids safe and off the street,” said Ms. White. “It really is a worthwhile event.”

On top of being a safe alternative, it is an event that offers students one last big “hur-rah” with all of their classmates, said Ms. White. About 200 students attended the party this year.

“It’s like their last time together with all their friends and it just really makes the memories special.”

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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