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One last night

Friday, East and West Jessamine High Schools will come together for Project Graduation, an event open to all Jessamine County seniors for the past 30 years.

With a check in time of 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., the event will be held this year at WJHS, located at 2101 Wilmore Road.

Alternating between schools annually, Project Graduation provides students a way to celebrate graduation in a drug- and alcohol-free environment. Students who participate can choose from a variety of different activities including dodgeball, basketball, movies, corn hole, ping pong, archery tag, Monte Carlo events, escape game type rooms, age-appropriate inflatables, arts, music, karaoke, trivia contests and dancing. Food will also be available for those who attend.

“The Project Graduation Committee has been busy preparing and raising donations since the fall,” committee member Stephanie Welch said. “Recently, Jess FM 105.9 hosted a radio telethon that generated community awareness and over $4,000.00 from businesses, political candidates and individuals. In addition to a monetary donation, businesses such as Sky Unlimited donated the materials for a successful night. These contributions pay for vendors, activities, and prizes, gift cards, etc. that many of the students will win.”

Welch said through her experience with Project Graduation over the past five years, the positive feedback from seniors who participate is overwhelming. Some students, Welch said, arrive and say they will not stay all night but end up never leaving.

Talon Saunders, class of 2015, said Project Graduation served as a perfect way to bond before going off into the next stage of life.

“The games, food, and thousands of dollars in prize drawings made the entire night exciting,” Saunders said. “I didn’t even think about sleep until it was almost over.”

Kalli Carson, from the class of 2017, said she cherishes the memories made at Project Graduation as it served as a wonderful way to connect with peers and friends one last time. She loved the engaging activities and was humbled to hear about donations from local businesses, although the community togetherness is what she treasured over all.

Parent volunteer Jennifer Hatton has been involved with Project Graduation for two years and said the event continues to have numerous community members going above and beyond to donate prizes and money.

“Past seniors still tell me how much fun they had at Project Graduation,” Hatton said. “Knowing we are keeping them safe and seeing the smiles and fun they have all night long is what it is all about. I love being a part of this special event.”

Welch said parent volunteers never expect to stay as long as they do just like the students, although enjoy the evening with the young adults who are about to start their next chapter in life.

“I am proud that our community still finds value in providing this type of night for our Seniors,” Welch said. “Both of my children, Conner and Kerrigan, and many of their friends have participated in this event and have given it a positive review. And most of them sleep the majority of the next day because they are so worn out from the event.”