Project Graduation provides a safe, fun-filled evening for graduates

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On Educating LaRue County

By Ron Benningfield

Project Graduation, observed at many high school campuses throughout the nation after Commencement exercises, gives the new alumni a drug-and-alcohol-free opportunity to celebrate, with several chances at cash prizes and valuable donated items.

LaRue County High School’s event will be June 6 in LaRue County Middle School’s East Wing. Registration starts at 11 p.m. with activities from midnight until 5 Saturday morning. A law enforcement officer will be present to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable evening.

While it’s a night of food, fun, and valuable prizes for the graduates, it’s also an opportunity for them to celebrate a milestone in their life in a safe and sober environment.

Arlie Hamilton, chairperson of prizes and fundraisers, who has a daughter graduating this year, expressed the peace of mind the night gives her.

“They can have fun without the influence of alcohol or drugs so they can really remember the night of fun and have no regrets,” she stated. “Hopefully, it will help them to see that this is the best alternative for their lives and that making good decisions has good results.”

This year’s theme chosen by the seniors‚ “Gatsby,” takes the graduates back to the roaring 20s. Decorations lining the halls are expected to reflect the era with glitz, glamour, and colors black, white and gold. Some of the food donated by sponsors or purchased through money acquired from fundraisers likely will include theme-related lemonade, tea, sandwich bars, ham, and fried chicken, plus some annual favorites like pizza and cookies.

Karen Adkins, project chairperson who has a son graduating, said parents have been working for months planning and raising the money for events and prizes that include computer tablets, a laptop, televisions, gift cards, iPod/iPad boom boxes, mini-speakers, luggage and a boom chair. Each graduate who attends will receive a goody bag of prizes. Students have to stay the entire night or prizes will be forfeited.

“The sheriff’s office does a DUI class at Project Graduation that participants are required to complete before they get their prizes,” said Hamilton. “This has been done for the last six or seven years to make students more aware.”

Entertainment includes a disc jockey and dancing, inflatables, competitions, games and a photo booth. Providing quality entertainment and prizes takes a lot of money and donations of items. To help, the committees have planned several more fundraisers including a Poker Run May 17 sponsored by American Legion Post 87 at 636 South Lincoln Boulevard in Hodgenville. Registration, at the Legion post, begins at 10; kickstands up at noon. Cost is $10.

Volunteers will take donations May 3 at the stoplight at Hardee’s and McDonalds and at Houchens Plaza and a Mr. Gatti's night in Elizabethtown May 5, dine in only, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Though more parents have shown up to help at each fundraiser, according to Adkins, she said there is a place to help for every one of the parents of the 175 students expected to graduate this year.

Other committee chairpersons include Kelly Hornback, finance; Michelle Brown, food; Renee Wright and Laura Evans, decorating; Adkins and Rhonda Carson, entertainment.

To contribute, checks can be made out to LaRue County Project Graduation and mailed to Kelly Hornback, 105 Union Circle; Hodgenville, KY 42748.