High school graduation is a bittersweet event.
It is the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
But it isn't easy for teachers and principals to watch their students throw their caps into the air and move on, especially after four years of being responsible for their academic development.
So you can only imagine how parents feel.
For St. James graduates, Project Graduation gives students a fun, safe atmosphere to enjoy each other's company one last time – that is, while under adult supervision.
"We try to keep them all together and keep it fun and safe," said Nancy Smallwood, president of Project Graduation. "The place is locked up, so they're not going to leave. It's alcohol free, so at least on graduation night we know where they're going to be, and meanwhile, they'll have fun."
This year, the students will board a charter bus and travel to Springfield for an all-night celebration at Incredible Pizza.
Project Graduation is currently asking individuals and local businesses to "Sponsor a Grad" for the trip, which is scheduled for May 18 at 9 p.m., after the John F. Hodge High School graduation ceremony.
The cost is $50 per student, and all donations will pay for travel expenses, food and activities and a special goodie bag for each graduate who attends.
The students will enjoy activities such as laser tag, go-cart racing, video games, music, movies and much more.
Smallwood says this will be a special night the students will remember for years to come.
"I think the kids are really excited that they get to do something different this year. They close the place down, and they will probably stay up all night," she said. "We'll have hot cinnamon rolls for them in the morning, and then we'll get back on the bus and head home."
The Class of 2013 has approximately 113 graduating seniors. Smallwood is uncertain as to how many students will attend the trip, but the idea is to get as many as possible.
Sponsors will have their names printed in the local newspaper along with the senior they sponsor.
Smallwood said Project Graduation is also planning a Trivia Night and Silent Auction on April 20 at the St. James Middle School. All proceeds will go toward funding the senior trip.
Sponsorship forms are available at the high school library.
For more information about sponsorship or the upcoming trivia night, contact Smallwood at 263-0937 or via e-mail at email@example.com.