Posted Date: 06/09/2021
COPPERAS COVE, TX (June 2, 2021)—The biggest danger teens face on graduation night is auto accidents, either because the driver has been drinking, is tired, or is simply distracted by a carload of friends. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the months of May and June experience some of the highest teenage traffic fatalities of the entire year. The fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19-year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over.
Copperas Cove ISD began working last September to plan Project Graduation, an event that offers graduates alcohol-free activities as a post-graduation party and an alternative to student gatherings involving alcoholic beverages or drugs.
Copperas Cove High School Director of Student Services Amal Baty said more than 75 percent of graduating seniors attended the event.
“It is unbelievable how in a short time, approximately six weeks, the community of Copperas Cove came together to help the class of 2021 celebrate its graduation and stay safe all night long,” Baty said. “You stood behind the senior class, encouraging, donating, and supporting in every way possible. I am so proud to be a part of this city and Copperas Cove High School for the past 36 years. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Local businesses contributed more than $20,000.00 in cash and $5,0000 in prizes that were given to students. The financial donations were used to rent a mechanical bull, a movie theater set up inside the high school, photo booth, video games truck, casino equipment, mobile disc jockey, create an escape room adventure, and hire a magician who was also a hypnotist. The cash donations also provided food throughout the event that ran from 11 p.m.-6 a.m.
Graduating senior Parker M. Reed said Project Graduation provided graduates the opportunity spend time together with groups of friends before leaving for college.
“All of the events were fun, but I enjoyed the casino most because I had never played any of those games before and I learned something new.,” Reed said. “We seniors had a tough year, and Project Graduation was a time dedicated to us and for us. It brought us all together.’
Reed will attend Florida State University in the fall. Her mother, Maria Reed served as a volunteer at Project Graduation and said she is thankful for the event.
“As a parent volunteer, I was so grateful that the kids had an event to go to after graduation that was safe, fun and designed just for them,” Maria Reed said. “I loved seeing their smiling faces and really enjoying the different events and games. I think the bingo game portion of the evening was my favorite part. All of the kids were playing together, and the prizes were amazing.”
Baty said that all school-related functions are supposed to be chemical-free, but what makes Project Graduation different is the attitude of the students.
“They have made a conscious decision to enjoy their graduation night without alcohol or other drugs. And no other group, including parents and school personnel, can make that decision for students,” Baty said.