A Look Ahead to Project Graduation
Project Graduation, like most events since last March, looks a little different this year.
Officially dubbed the “Senior Celebration” by the parent volunteers working to put the experience together, there are a few notable changes from years past put in place to minimize the community spread of COVID-19. Traditionally, Project Graduation is a substance-free event planned by senior parent volunteers to give the graduating class one last gathering before they embark on their separate journeys; that much hasn’t changed. However, instead of hosting an all-night celebration the evening after graduation, this year’s event will take place the night before graduation, from 8-11pm. The details of this year’s Senior Celebration have also been kept very hush-hush, which aligns with years past. The only clue students have received is an email flyer from the organizers that lists the date and location of the event, adorned with a candy-striped circus tent.
Some seniors are unsure but optimistic about the new changes, such as Maggie Sperry (‘21). “I don’t really know how I feel about this year’s Project Graduation,” Sperry said. “I think it’s going to be different, and like everything this year, we just have to change our mindset on what we expect from other years and make the best out of what happens, and just appreciate that we are lucky enough for [the senior parents] to do something for us.”
Kristin Forselius, a senior parent and volunteer organizer for this year’s Senior Celebration, acknowledged the changes but emphasized that every difference was put in place for the safety of the seniors. “We [changed the date of the Senior Celebration] because we were hearing from parents that they were going to have relatives that they haven’t seen in over a year in town, and we didn’t know where people would be at with their vaccines, and we knew there’d be a lot of mixing with people coming in from out of state and out of town… so we thought it would be best that we [have the Senior Celebration] the night before, and then on graduation day students can be with their families and share that special time together.”
Students are already well-acquainted with COVID conscious events, since the junior/senior “maskerade” gala was hosted on May 12th out on the ORHS turf field. It seems that above all, seniors are simply expecting this year’s Senior Celebration to be a good time amid a year of chaos and disappointment as events got cancelled and students sat at home, exhausting every possible Netflix show and board game. “I just hope for a fun night with my friends and classmates,” said Sperry. “To get excited for graduation the next day and to make the last memories of high school.”
“Something I want to take away from Project Graduation is maybe to connect with some people I’ve sort of lost touch with because of growing apart a bit due to COVID or other reasons before we all go into the world,” said Nathalie Paré (‘21). It is a startling realization for most seniors, that once the diplomas have been handed out and caps have been tossed in the air, many of the people that they have spent the last four or more years of their lives with will no longer be a fixture in their everyday lives.
However, the event itself is a display of resilience, demonstrating that despite the pandemic, the seniors and the Oyster River community are still able to overcome the challenges presented to them and finish the last year of high school strong. Paré described the Senior Celebration as being the opportunity to “celebrate the fact that we graduated and we all made it through all of this and came out on top.”
Forselius said that tickets for the Senior Celebration will be on sale via Eventbrite soon, and she encouraged seniors to purchase their tickets early. Those who pre-register before June 4th can get tickets for $10, while tickets purchased at the door are $20. “If you cannot afford, for any reason, no questions asked- if $10 is too much for you, there’s a code you can use on the Eventbrite to get a free ticket,” Forselius said. “We want everyone to come and we want everyone to have access.”
Each senior attending will need to complete a COVID health check, and masks will be mandatory. Sanitizer will also be provided at frequent intervals throughout the event. And, in order to maintain air flow, the Celebration will be held outdoors at ORHS, and details as to where specifically will be released as necessary at a later date.
To reiterate, this year’s Senior Celebration will be held on Thursday, June 10th, from 8-11pm. All seniors are invited to purchase a ticket and attend. Seniors: discover the secret details of the event for yourself! Enjoy your last night of high school outside at the Celebration with your friends, reminiscing and relishing your last hours as the senior class… it will be a night to remember.