OUR VIEW: Give a hand and grad night safe and sound

Testing is almost over and caps and gowns have been ordered and graduation announcements addressed.

The big day for both Odessa High School and Permian High School seniors is at hand.

What’s left to do?

Fundraise for their big night.

The graduates will make that walk across the stage — Permian on May 25 and OHS on May 26 — and head into their post-high school lives. But before that new life begins — both schools will celebrate with a Project Graduation event that offers food, games and, of course, lots and lots of prizes. But it needs your help.

The free party goes from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. both graduation nights at the Odessa College Sports Complex, and parents are informed if a student decides to leave before 3 a.m. They save the best prizes for the end of the night as incentive to hang around. This year’s graduates have been afforded the opportunity to celebrate graduation night in a safe and secure manner that still encourages fun and school spirit.

But that won’t happen if Odessans and Odessa businesses don’t pitch in this year, because not nearly enough money has been raised to fund Project Graduation for both Permian and OHS. The parties still need both funds and volunteers.

Following the Odessa and Permian High graduations, parents are hoping to provide a safe celebratory environment for the graduates with Project Graduation at the Odessa College Sports Center.

Project Graduation provides students a night of entertainment and chances to win prizes without the dangers of illegal substances and drinking and driving.

Organizers at both schools need a boost to raise enough money and donations to fund the events.

But organizers from both schools are going through the same issue that has happened for the past couple of years — lack of funding.

No funding comes from Ector County Independent School District.

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.

Hutson said she expects between 450 and 550 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.

For both schools the plan is to purchase items students may need for college such as computers and TVs. An incentive to stay the whole night is that grads could win big prizes. Hutson said based on the amount of donations received, they could get a $1,000 gift card.

The two high schools work together in sharing some costs for the large rentals, though each party is held after each graduation. All donations are tax deductible as Project Graduation, which has been around since about 1988, is a nonprofit 501(c)3.

OHS chairperson Lisa McIntosh said along with the scholarships from OC and UTPB, one of the alumni classes is offering scholarships. “We’re trying to really help these kids out because some of these kids it’s hard for them to go to college.”

So, lend a hand or some cash and help grads from both OHS and Permian have a safe and fun night.