Wellington High School’s annual Project Graduation celebration was held the evening of Thursday, May 22. The Class of 2014 gathered together one final time at Village Park on Pierson Road.
Project Graduation is a volunteer-led effort to offer graduating seniors a safe alternative to the often-fatal graduation night party hopping. Statistics have proven that teenage deaths related to drugs and alcohol are among the highest during commencement week.
On average, a WHS Project Graduation event runs $25,000, and although the school supports the effort in many ways, it is not a school-sponsored or school-funded event. “Project Graduation is not cheap,” co-chair Michelle Boudreau said. “Almost 300 graduates show up. These graduates have said no to the often-dangerous drugging, drinking, driving and party hopping on their graduation night. They have also agreed to remain at the Village Park gymnasium from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. They trust Project Graduation to keep them entertained for seven long hours, and parents trust this celebration to keep their kids safe. Entertaining and feeding this many graduates is expensive.”
Many local businesses helped make the party a reality. “Without the help of local business donations, this celebration would not be possible,” co-chair Mary Jane Cullen said. “Our fundraising committee organized a number of successful fundraisers, including a golf tournament at Madison Green, a comedy night at the Improv, a Whole Foods tasting event and a partnership with several local restaurants. Nevertheless, we were still far short of our fundraising goals, but the Wellington community came through again.”
WHS Project Graduation’s top sponsor was Equestrian Sport Productions. “We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. [Mark] Bellissimo and the equestrian community for their continued support of this safe graduation-night celebration,” Boudreau said. “Produce Children’s Fund, also a top sponsor, added some sorely needed money. B/E Aerospace, ADP, the Mall at Wellington Green, iParty Pix, Macy’s, Councilwoman Anne Gerwig, Bethesda Health, Edmund James Salon, Publix and Bodegon were all big contributors.”
Event organizers also thank the Village of Wellington. “Sincere thanks to the Village of Wellington for allowing us the use of their facility, and to Ryan Hagopian and his staff for their enthusiastic support,” co-chair Vicky Sehres said.
Seniors were greeted by a mariachi band, entertained by a fabulous D.J., cartoon artists, casino games, a dodge ball tournament, inflatables and a Zumba/rave hour. Closing the night was an amazing hypnotist and fantastic prizes.
The event’s co-chairs thank everybody who contributed to the success of WHS Project Graduation 2014.
“Each year brings a new class of graduates and a renewed effort to plan their safe graduation celebration,” Boudreau said. “On a night that carries such chilling statistics, every donation, every fundraising opportunity and every volunteer hour are greatly appreciated.”
Fundraising for the Class of 2015 will begin soon. Contact Boudreau or Cullen at WellingtonProjectGrad2014@gmail.com for more information.
ABOVE: Project Graduation co-chairs Mary Jane Cullen, Vicky Sehres and Michelle Boudreau celebrate with the mariachi band.