Prizes, games and scholarships will be the featured attractions at Project Graduation celebrations later this month for Odessa and Permian high schools.
Both alcohol-free events will be held after graduation at the Odessa College Sports Center. Permian’s will be May 25 and OHS on May 26. The celebrations each end at about 3 a.m. the next morning.
Both celebrations are run on donations and more funds are needed. For OHS, contact chairperson Lisa McIntosh at 432-288-0648 or Yolanda Vasquez at 634-6459 and for Permian, contact Heather Hutson, chairperson, at 432 238-5705.
Permian chairperson Heather Hutson said she expects between 450 and 550 students.
There will be a casino upstairs, basketball and volleyball tournaments downstairs, plus inflatables, air sports and jumpers and free food and water. Hutson noted that the event is a safe alternative for students.
Among the prizes is a chance to earn scholarships to Odessa College and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
“I think it’s great. One of the first years they did it was when I graduated from OHS. It’s an option for them to come and hang out with their friends one last time,” Huston said.
She added that it may be the last time students see their classmates for several years.
Plans are to purchase items students may need for college such as computers and TVs. An incentive to stay the whole night is that youngsters could win big prizes. Hutson said based on the amount of donations received, they could get a $1,000 gift card.
There will be security, so once a student leaves, they won’t be allowed back in, she said. Claire Adams, an 18-year-old PHS senior, said she’s planning to attend and she’s looking forward to it. She has been a guest previously.
“I would say it’s a fun opportunity and it’s clean and you know you’ll be safe there. … It’s a good way to win money and prizes that you can use … for college,” Adams said.
Adams said she plans to attend Abilene Christian and study business. She attended Permian for three years.
“I’ve had different teachers and some teachers have really helped me and some have not, but that’s how it would be anywhere. I think that if you try and you put effort into it, you can get a good education there. If you don’t, that’s your fault,” Adams said.
OHS’ Project Graduation will have many of the same activities as Permian’s celebration.
“We’re in the midst of raising more funds to get prizes,” Chairperson Lisa McIntosh said.
Along with the scholarships from OC and UTPB, one of the alumni classes is offering scholarships, McIntosh said.
“We’re trying to really help these kids out because some of these kids it’s hard for them to go to college,” she said.
The goal is to get every one of the graduates to attend, which as of the first Project Graduation meeting was 655, McIntosh said.
“I can say from my own prior experience, I graduated back when, and it was an all night party and we had an amazing time. We are hoping, crossing our fingers that every kid walks out that door with something,” McIntosh said.
Since the first announcement in January, she said the project graduation group has been trying to raise awareness and funds.
“… It’s for the kids. It’s for the students. We’re trying to make it as fun as possible so they can go to college, or even if they stay local, to make it easy for them if we can get them scholarships,” she said.
Logan McIntosh, an 18-year-old senior, said the party seems like it will be fun and he will get to spend time with his friends.
Asked about a bright spot at OHS, Logan said he got to come full circle with his principal. Mauricio Marquez was principal at Blackshear Elementary when Logan went there and is now principal at OHS.
“I’m excited, but then if you think about it went so fast,” he said.