Waxahachie High School Project Graduation is fundraising

Kenya Menjivar
Waxahachie Daily Light

Project Graduation is now underway for Waxahachie High School, in preparation for the class of 2021. 

“Project Graduation is a tradition that started back in the '70s. Some parents got together and hosted an event at the Waxahachie Country Club for seniors to go to, basically like a safe environment for them to go, to help prevent them from going to parties and drinking and getting in trouble. And it’s just progressed from there. What it is now, every year senior parents take control of it and fundraise throughout the year to be able to put on this event,” shared Nicole Burnett, vice president of the project.

This event has been hosted for years, but it had to be altered a bit for the class of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The senior class of 2020 had a scavenger hunt, while they were still able to win prizes.

The project for 2021 is planned to be hosted right after graduation like in years past.

“It will be directly after graduation, and we will set up casino games, a money cash grab machine, gaga ball, nine square. They’ll be able to go swimming, there’ll be a movie room, a video game room, inflatables, food ... and then at the end of the night they will have the opportunity to win prizes,” explained Burnett.

In previous years, there had been about 400 students in attendance.

“It does range. In years past, we’ve had 90 percent senior students participate, which would probably be in upwards of like 400. This year, the graduating class is, I think, is like 562 students, and so our guesstimate is that anywhere from 300 to 500 students will attend,” shared Burnett.

In order to fund this event, a budget of $45,000 has been set. This sum includes prizes such as laptops, Air Pods, Google homes, activities, and food the students will enjoy for the night.

“COVID has made it difficult to do some fundraising because we’re limited with what we can do, and a lot of the big events that we get paid to do aren't happening, so we’re  kind of having to try and make up for that,” said Burnett. “Honestly we probably only have about 5-10 percent of that. A lot of businesses aren’t doing as big of donations that they’ve usually done. A big chunk of money that was raised was just sending out sponsor letters to companies and them just donating $200, $500. ... A lot of businesses aren’t doing that because they’re not able to because they've taken such big hits because of COVID.”

Usually, the project would participate in fundraisers, donations, events and spirit nights to fund the event. However, this year many businesses were not able to contribute or sponsor because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it's had on them.

Luckily, the project will still be selling discount cards this school year, to help in funding. 

"Project Graduation participates in selling discount cards to restaurants, to fund the project. We reach out to local vendors and restaurants and ask if they want to be featured on the cards, and if so, then they tell us what kind of discount they would offer,” shared Burnett.

The card doesn't cost the vendor anything upfront, and they just honor the discount on the card.

The discount card is $20 to purchase, giving access to discounts for restaurants and businesses in the area.

Spirit nights are also being held throughout the month, with a night scheduled at Mod Pizza on Wednesday, Nov. 18. These give 15-20 percent donations of the full prices paid by participating customers. 

Project Graduation was also supposed to volunteer at the Coleman Craft Show concession stand, but the show was recently canceled due to COVID-19 cases rising in the state.

If the committee doesn’t raise the sufficient funds needed, they will have to cut back on the project for the Class of 2021.

“If we don’t make enough, we don’t want to cut back on the prizes for the kids. Luckily, a lot of the events ... were able to be donated to us or purchased for this year. The YMCA is being really helpful with discounting their rental fees. But obviously, the more money we make the better, because the more prizes we can buy,” said Burnett.

The committee is also in dire need of volunteers to help the project go smoothly.

“We need a lot of volunteers to help facilitate these fundraisers. We have a committee of four of us, and we rely on other volunteers, which would be senior parents to help facilitate these fundraisers. We can’t do it on our own,” shared Burnett. “If there’s any businesses out there that want to help and contribute by making a monetary donation or donating food or prizes for Project Graduation, all of those things are things we still need.”

Additionally, Burnett shared that COVID precautions will be taken if things look similar to what they are now, with an increase in cases of the coronavirus happening.

If you’re interested in helping the project or volunteering, email whspg2021@gmail.com . For additional information, visit https://whs.wisd.org/ .