It’s 11 p.m. The seniors have just been released from their graduation ceremony. A handful of these graduates pile into cars with their friends, and head back to Johnson. Instead of heading home, these students are returning to school because of Project Graduation.
“Last year I actually went to the party because I knew I was going to be the chairperson this year, so I thought, ‘Well, I’ll go check it out, see what I think,’ and it looked like everybody just had a blast,” parent and Project Graduation committee chair Kathleen Donoghue said.
Project Graduation is a lock-in for seniors who have just graduated. The night of graduation, the students get to climb on a bus, go to the party, and hang out with friends until early morning when they return to school.
“It was first started as a way for kids to have a safe place to go get together after graduation, and the idea is to prevent drinking and driving, and being out completely unsupervised after graduation,” parent and Project Graduation committee chair Kathleen Donoghue said. “So, it’s a safe place to go graduation night, and spend the whole evening and through into the morning with your friends for one last fun hurrah as you just graduated.”
Just like last year, Project Graduation will be held at the Rio Cibolo Ranch. Last year, the party had many types of activities for the graduates.
“The facility has volleyball, they actually set up a huge they set up four volleyball nets like a plus sign so you could have four quadrants of kids playing all at once, so that was really fun. And they had basketball, a whole section of pool tables, ping pong tables, shuffleboards, foosball,” Donoghue said. “Then we had hired casino, so we had blackjack…They had a DJ, karaoke, they had a hay ride…so there was something to do.”
Every year, the PTA has been in charge of organizing Project Graduation. This year, however, students are going to participate in the committee.
“We don’t have just a Parent Teacher Association at Johnson High School, we have a PTSA, and we thought that since students can be members of the PTSA, the PTA board looked at the committee and thought it would make sense to have students on,” Donoghue said. “And we also have students who I think that they do some of the social media for the PTA, PTSA, and besides that it was only a couple of people we thought how else can we get kids involved with PTSA, and it just made sense for Project Graduation, it made a lot of sense to have students on that committee.”
Having students on the committee is a good way to get the students to give their opinions about what should be in the party and to spread the word about the event, according to Donoghue.
“We’re hoping that the students will really help with the ticket sales, PR, communications, and get the word out about the party, about Project Graduation, hopefully it will really help us have a better turnout to have the kids on the committee this year,” Donoghue said.
Students will be promoting Project Graduation through social media, as well as encouraging their peers to join through the allure of food and activities.
“As soon as the kids arrive, I think that the buses left around 10:30 or 11, after graduation, and the kids all park at school, get on a bus, they got sandwiches…I’m not positive exactly who we’ll use, but we’ll probably have some kind of a snack since by then they’ll have been at graduation and haven’t gotten a chance to eat probably or haven’t eaten in a long time. But then as soon as they get there, they have all of the food set up, everything is just ready to go.”
Like last year, there is going to be plenty of food available at Project Graduation.
“There’s going to be a quesadilla bar with smoked chicken, brisket, sauteed onions, mushrooms, cheese, all that stuff. Chalupas, nacho bar, veggie trays, fruit trays, ice cream sundae bar, and then that’s gonna be with the unlimited drinks, fountain drinks and lemonade. And then, at 3:30 in the morning they’re gonna have doughnuts, orange juice, coffee, milk, so, that’s gonna be breakfast.”
Donoghue is optimistic about Project Graduation this year.
“Yeah, I think it’s going to be great. If last year is any indication, then I think it’s going to be a really fun party,” Donoghue said.