Parents aren't stupid. They know graduating seniors celebrating their last night of high school, if left to their own devices, can be a recipe for trouble
Which is why Project Graduation is so important, according to Terese Campbell.
"In terms of safety, (graduation night) is a very emotionally charged event," said Campbell, a member of the Cinnaminson Home and School Association. "There's an opportunity for them to have individual parties and to get themselves in some kind of trouble.
"The whole purpose (of Project Graduation) is to provide a drug-free, alcohol-free supervised celebration for graduating seniors."
Project Graduation is a program offered by high schools across the country, in which organized, adult-supervised activities are held the night of graduation—traditionally one of the deadliest nights for teenagers, with its combination of partying, drinking and driving. Cinnaminson has held a Project Graduation party for the last 17 or 18 years, said Campbell, who sits on Home and School's Project Graduation committee.
As in years past, this year's party will be held at the Burlington County Special Services School District building, with plenty of music, food, games and other entertainment.
Home and School has been in fundraising mode, pretty much since the end of last year's party, Campbell said. The organization held its biggest Project Graduation fundraiser earlier this month—a bowling party at Pinsetters in Pennsauken.
But with a price tag of easily more than $10,000 for the graduation celebration, the fundraising is far from over, said Campbell, who explained each year is tight, given the tough economic times.
"We work on this year-round, because there's no budget for this. There's no booster club for this," she said. "We cut it close every year ... There's a lot of great organizations soliciting the same group of people for donations."
In addition to the bowling party, the organization's other big fundraising opportunity is the sale of balloons, accompanied by personal messages, which well-wishers can send to graduates as gifts.
Teachers, neighbors classmates and family all get in on the act, said Campbell. "It's just a way to acknowledge that day, and inexpensively."
The price is $3 per balloon. For more information, contact Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Home and School will also be selling water and pretzels at the middle school promotion (essentially a graduation ceremony for eighth-graders), which is the night before the high school graduation, and on graduation night itself (5:45 p.m. Thursday, June 20). Proceeds will go toward next year's Project Graduation.
With a 95 percent or better participation rate, Campbell stressed the importance of keeping the party going.
"It really is a great party for the kids ... It gives them something to look forward to," she said. "No one is left out. They really enjoy that sense of being together for the last time."
If you'd like to make a donation, mail a check made payable to "Project Graduation" to Cinnaminson High School.