Project Graduation is an activity initiated by the Middlesboro School's Parent and Community Involvement Program to prevent the seniors from having their own party, where underage drinking and illegal drug use may take place. Every graduating senior is invited, and they are also allowed to bring one guest. It begins at 11:00 p.m. and ends at 6:00 a.m., with seniors not being able to leave unless a parent comes to the school. According to Lori Gambrel of the Parent and Community Involvement Program, there were approximately 75 seniors and their guests in attendance.
A safe atmosphere isn't the only benefit of attending the party. Seniors can win prizes, money, enjoy free food, and spend one last night together as a class.
The main attraction of Project Graduation is the chance of winning a big prize. At the end of the night, there is an auction for various items. The seniors bid on the items, hoping to be the highest bidder. They do not use real money - they use fake play money. Earning this play money is only possible through playing the many games available, such as: “wheel of fortune”, “plinko”, and “toilet seat throw”.
When the games end, seniors gather in the cafeteria for the auction. Each prize starts off at its original price and increases as a bid is placed. A few examples of prizes include: $1,000 scholarships from Lincoln Memorial University; Dell notebook computers; an X Box 360; iPod Nanos; portable DVD players; $50 gift cards from Wal-Mart; and gift packages with $25 gift cards from Goody's. The goal is to have enough prizes for every senior to win something.
For seniors not interested in the fake money, the gym is open for athletic events. Basketball, a three-point shooting contest, three-on-three basketball, and volleyball are played for real money. The Youth Service Center also hosts a pool tournament for cash prizes.
Throughout the night, at set times, everything is closed for food breaks. The cafeteria is set up with plenty of food for the hungry seniors. The selection of food is enormous: platters of hamburgers, soft tacos, chicken, sandwiches, and more. During food breaks, the seniors are able to answer trivia questions and guess the artist and name of an unfamiliar song for bonus fake money.
Even if a senior doesn't win the “big prize”, they come away with something else: a safe night. That is what this is all about. Seniors, parents, friends, family, and teachers can all celebrate the accomplishment of graduation without worrying about the consequences of wrong choices.