By Karen Zautyk
If you are a Kearny resident looking to give something back to your community, there are few more rewarding ways than to become involved in Project Graduation. Besides which, it can be a lot of fun!
The 2014 kickoff meeting will be held this Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the faculty lounge at Kearny High School, and prospective volunteers are urged to attend.
Many of the adults involved in the program are, or have been, the parents of KHS students, but that’s not a prerequisite. All responsible adults are invited, and this week’s meeting is the perfect way for you to get more information, meet the other volunteers and decide if you would like to become one of them.
If your answer is yes, you will be more than welcome, for Project Graduation needs your help. Its work is ongoing, and no matter your interests or talents, there is certain to be a way for you to be part of this worthwhile effort.
Its culmination comes in June, on graduation night, when a post-commencement all-night party is held for the KHS grads. This is an alcoholfree, drug-free event that offers a jubilant, and safe, alternative to private house parties. And the kids love it.
Project Graduation was launched in Kearny in 1996 after several teens were injured in a serious graduation-night auto accident on Kearny Ave. Now, on average, at least 85% of each graduating class has opted to attend, reports Project Grad president, Steve Dyl. Last June, he noted, there were more than 300 attendees.
The grads are bused to a secret location (this discourages party-crashers) where they can dance the night away. And participate in a multitude of other activities. There are competitions (like jousting), games, crafts, an obstacle course, a DJ, an artist who will draw their caricature, plus the ever-popular hypnotist.
There also are sports: swimming, racquetball, basketball, et al.
And during the fest, the party-goers can feast to their hearts’, or tummies’, content. (Most of the refreshments are donated by Applebee’s.)
The grads are home, safe and sound and well-fed, by 6 a.m.
Obviously, none of the above can happen without adult volunteers, who act as chaperones, planners and coordinators.
But vols are needed also for other Project Graduation events, including the annual bus trip to Atlantic City (scheduled for Feb. 23), the annual township volleyball tournament (April 25), and helping out with the major Project Grad fundraiser, the 50-50 raffle, tickets for which are sold from now until the drawing in June.
One of the best things about being a Project Graduation volunteer is that you can set your own schedule. Yes, volunteering requires commitment, but the time you would have to commit is flexible.
“Project Graduation,” Dyl said, “is a great community activity for everyone.”
For more information, you can contact the organizers: Call Dyl at 201-991-7467; Sandy Hyde at 551-265-8969, or Jarlynn Hyde at 201-991- 5719.
Even better, meet the organizers and get all your questions answered by attending this week’s meeting.