WAXAHACHIE — Twenty-six years ago, a group of parents started a post-graduation tradition for senior students at Waxahachie High School. Today, the annual WHS Project Graduation is alive and well, but is in need of assistance as the small group of dedicated parents makes the final push toward the June 2 graduation date.
Andria Bone, a math enrichment teacher at Howard Junior High, is preparing to watch the first of her three kids walk the graduation stage. She and roughly 20 other senior parents, have been hard at work to prepare an alcohol-and-substance-free night for all of the Waxahachie seniors after they move their tassels and become Indian alumni.
“It's a drug-free and alcohol-free way for the kids to celebrate their graduation. We have had about 20 parents out of a class of almost 550 who have been working for most of the year. But honestly, I think that is just because there are so many of the kids who don't know what project graduation is, so then many of the parents don't know what it is,” said Bone of the event that takes place June 2-3 from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. at the Waxahachie Civic Center.
Bone explained that the event is more than just a couple sandwiches with an iPhone plugged into an auxiliary cord. It is a full night of entertainment that includes mini games, table games, a cash booth, a coffee bar, and even a live slideshow where the graduates will be able to use a unique hashtag to add their photos from the evening.
"We are also going to have a DJ for five hours, who is a previous graduate of Waxahachie. We will also have the casino, corn hole tournaments, ping pong tournaments, and as many hands-on activities as possible,” Bone said. “We are also going to do a walk down memory lane. There is a link on our website where parents can submit a baby photo that we will use on the walk as sort of a guessing game to try and figure out who is who from their baby pictures."
However, in order to make the event a success, the small group of parents is asking for others to step up by attending one, or both, of the next two planning meetings before the big night. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month, with the next scheduled for Thursday, April 6.
"The meetings are very laid-back, and everybody gets a chance to express themselves if they have other ideas but at some meetings there has only been six of us. We talk about what our goal is and how much of our goal we have accomplished and where we are on fundraising,” Bone explained. “We only have two more meetings before that is it and we have to have it all planned. The next two meetings will be recruiting for volunteers because we will need people to man things that night and we will need people to volunteer for shifts and stations throughout the project graduation. We are going to need to coordinate some junior parents to help with the food. So most of what is to come at the next two meetings are going to be logistics."
She also noted that, while they would love to have a few corporate sponsors, the group has raised most of its funding through the discount card sales and from volunteers donating their time at various community events, such as working the annual Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce Academy Awards.
“Our goal, depending on the amount of money we raise, is to have every kid walk out of there with money and not just some swag from are institutions,” Bone said. “We want to make sure that they are all walking out with at least some money in their hand. But their odds will increase based on the number of tickets they have because those tickets will go into a drawing for large TVs, Apple watches, PS4, Xboxes, and other big ticket prizes. Any volunteer hours accumulated by the parents will also go towards extra tickets for their child that night.”
For more information on the evening or how to donate time or supplies, contact Andria Bone at email@example.com or Chrisanna Melick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parents can also visit the official website at project2017graduat.wixsite.com/whs17, Twitter @Seniors2017_WHS, or the Facebook group “Waxahachie Class of 2017 Project Graduation.”
There are also still discount cards available with over $2,000 worth of savings. The next meeting is Thursday, April 6 at 7 p.m. in room 313 at Howard Junior High.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith