WHS Project Grad Sends 289 Seniors Off With Celebration

On May 21, 289 graduating seniors from Wellington High School enjoyed an all-night party at the Village Park gym. Wellington Project Graduation was a safe celebration of friends, memories and good times with plenty of prizes, food and entertainment.

“It is an event coordinated by volunteer parents, raising funds in partnership with community businesses, and dedicated to providing a safe alternative for graduates to celebrate the end of their high school careers,” said Karen Herrick, co-chair of the event.

The concept of Project Graduation is to reduce teenage alcohol and drug-related fatalities as a result of graduation celebrations. The party began at 10 p.m. on graduation night and continued until 5 a.m., while graduates were entertained by a DJ, magician, caricature and ink tattoo artists, huge inflatable games/rides, a hypnotist, casino games and more. Food and refreshments donated by local restaurants were served throughout the night.

“It costs approximately $25,000 each year to conduct Project Graduation, which takes some dedicated coordination,” Herrick said. “Fundraisers are an important part of the planning process, and the time to start is now.”

The committee held a variety of events to help raise additional funds, including a December golf tournament at the Wanderers Club, which brought in approximately $9,000. But the event would not have been the success it was without the generous support of the Wellington business community. The Palm Beach County School District doesn’t provide any funding for the event. Mark and Katherine Bellissimo and the Equestrian Sport Productions team anchored the event with their generous platinum-level sponsorship.

“We had some final sponsorship funds we needed to secure, and the Wellington Chamber of Commerce board of directors and friends, Anne Gerwig and Glenn Straub, pulled together the funds to make sure it would happen,” Herrick said. “Straub provided a matching sponsorship to ensure these final financial concerns were taken care of and the event planning moved ahead at full force.”

Other gold-level sponsorships included: Flight Safety International, the Mall at Wellington Green, Southern Waste Systems, Starbucks Coffee Company, Steinger, Iscoe & Greene, Studio One to One and the Wanderers Club.
The 2013 committee has turned over the planning to volunteer parents of the 2014 graduating class from Wellington High School.

The final meeting for 2013 volunteers and the kickoff meeting for the Class of 2014 will be at Duffy’s at 11935 Southern Blvd. in Royal Palm Beach on Wednesday, June 19 at 7 p.m.

“We have a wealth of information and the initial funding to help the new group get off to a fast start. We are looking for a few strong volunteers to step up and begin the plans for next year’s event,” Herrick said.

Anyone interested in more details about planning the event should contact the 2013 committee at WellingtonProjectGrad2013@gmail.com. For additional information on the event, call Herrick at (561) 389-6962.

ABOVE: A hypnotist casts his spell over the 289 Wellington High School Project Graduation participants.