Special day all that much better thanks to Project Grad Night | Guest Column

The photo booth proved a big hit at Project Grad Night, 2014. That
The photo booth proved a big hit at Project Grad Night, 2014. That's graduates Kate Fenley and Aidan Anderson captured by the lens.
— image credit: Contributed photo

By Kelly Snow

On June 7, 58 students of the class of 2014 graduated from Friday Harbor High School, taking their first step out into the world, and most likely, away from the island that has literally been their rock for 18 years.

But after the diplomas were distributed, hugs were shared, and photos were taken, the students were whisked away for one final night together as a class. This night, called Project Grad Night, is a gift to the students from their parents and dozens of community members and businesses, who make it possible.barge group

Project Grad Night, as an all-night event, was started on the island in 2007 by grad parents working with the Prevention Coalition, as a way to provide a safe and memorable evening for graduating seniors. Graduation night has historically been the most dangerous night of a teenager’s life, with a high incident rate across the country of drinking and driving accidents.

What happens on Project Grad Night?

It varies from year to year, as each year a group of parents fundraise and plan the event for nine months, according to what they believe their kids would most enjoy.

This year’s event included: a magical barge trip with DJ and dancing, a sunset toast, and delicious sandwich bar, to a beach where students played games, had bonfires and a BBQ; then onto a barn dance in an amazingly beautiful setting, with DJ and light show, professional Laser Tag course, sumo wrestling, photo booth, delectable catered dinner, espresso bar with professional barista; swimming, hot-tubbing, the gift of massage and hair styling by attentive professionals, pingpong, a fun hypnotist show, milk and cookie bar; special sunrise breakfast, another fabulous espresso bar, slide show, letters from friends and family, gifts, plus more!  (Mother Nature did her part too by providing a spectacularly beautiful night, complete with a show of the Northern Lights!)

This special night could not happen without the dedication of 15-plus amazing chaperones, who donate their entire evening to spend with these kids, traveling from site to site, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. These are community members and coaches (not parents!) to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude.

So many businesses contributed, with stunning generosity, by donating their goods, services, cash, discounts, and time to the fundraisers and to the event itself that it is not possible to list all here (please see our ‘thank you’ ad in this issue and be sure to support these local businesses).

The senior class felt the love of this amazing community every step of the way. Every volunteer and donor worked graciously and tirelessly to provide this memorable night.

This is an amazing village, one that takes care of its members, young and old. We are truly blessed.

— Editor's note: Kelly Snow served as Chair of the Project Grad Night Planning Committee


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