By Elizabeth Richards
2019 Windham High School graduates had a chance to celebrate one last time as a class with a three-state excursion that included plenty of food, physical activity, and a four-hour cruise around Boston Harbor at the 2019 Project Grad event.
Although fewer students than anticipated attended the event, 2019 chairperson Robin Mullins said 110 graduates took part from the class of approximately 215 students.
The evening started with students arriving at the high school after graduation where Subway
sandwiches, chips and drinks were waiting for them to enjoy while
checking in. Students then boarded three buses and headed to Portsmouth, NH
where they spent two hours at Get Air, a trampoline park.
|The 110 graduates leaving on their safe Project Grad Tour/Party|
At 9:30 p.m., the students got back on the bus and headed to Boston Harbor where they boarded a four-level yacht for their private cruise. From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., students had the run of the boat. Activities included casino games, henna tattoos, a caricature artist, a DJ with dancing and karaoke, and more. One highlight of the evening was a hypnotist. “From what I hear, the kids loved him,” Mullins said.
At 3 a.m., students re-boarded the buses and headed back to Windham, arriving just before 5:30 a.m. Once back at the school, each student received a gift card to Aroma Joe’s as well as one to either Good Life Market or Beacon Pizza.
Mullins said, “I think they had a good trip, based on the feedback I’m getting.” She said this year’s trip was quite similar to the one she coordinated for the class of 2017. Mullins said that although many classes have done other things, such as white water rafting, a trip that keeps the kids on the move can help eliminate any issues that could arise, and is over by early morning, which can be good for both chaperones and students.
Mullins said she thinks Project Grad is important for two reasons. First, she said “It’s great to have one final trip as a class that they can all go on and be together.” Second, an organized event means that parents know their kids are safe.
Putting the event together was a year-long process, and requires a lot of commitment, Mullins said. For the 2019 event, the group held a fundraiser every month and raised about $31,000. Because they had fewer than anticipated students attend, they ended up with a surplus of approximately $2100, which they will be passing on to the class of 2020 for their Project Graduation event.
Although there was a good group of 12 to 20 parents involved in the fundraising, Mullins said “I’d like to see more kids go, and I’d like to see more parents involved in the process.” With a class of 200 students, she said, if every family participated in just one or two fundraisers it would ease the burden on the core planning group.
The chair for Project Grad 2020, Sarah Elliott, said that they are having trouble finding volunteers to staff the fundraising, and would welcome anyone interested in being involved. Volunteers don’t have to be parents of graduating seniors, though that is often the case; grandparents, family members and friends are also welcome. Elliott said they are also reaching out to the students in the class of 2020 to help once they are finished raising funds for graduation expenses.
Fundraising for Project Grad 2020 is already underway, with plans to have a table at Summerfest where they will be selling sausage subs (with meal deal options), iced coffee, Ring Pops, and Airhead. They also plan to hold a yard sale over the summer, and their golf tournament is scheduled for October 6th at Spring Meadows at 11 a.m.
Other fundraising activities for the year will include concessions at Gambo Fields during soccer season, a craft fair, pallet parties, a princess and superhero party, and partnering with local businesses. Elliott said they are open to hearing any ideas others may have.
Elliott said that Project Grad is a long-standing tradition that gives students a safe place to celebrate the night that they graduate. “It’s their last night before they hit the “real world,” she said. “I really like the idea of just having that one last night together and parents don’t have to worry where they are,” she added.
The outgoing chairperson plays a vital role in getting the next group going. “Robin has been an absolute godsend to helping us,” Elliott said, “I’ll do the same for the next class.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with Project Grad 2020 can message through the Facebook Page, WHSprojectgrad2020 or email Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org.