Yokota Project Graduation aims to provide safe, fun party
May 7, 2006
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — With safety and sobriety the target objectives, a private organization called Yokota High School Project Graduation has raised more than $15,000 this year to throw an all-night party for the 74-member class of 2006.
The effort, being tried at Yokota for the first time, is designed to promote drug- and alcohol-free alternatives for seniors on their big night.
“The whole concept is to give seniors an opportunity to bond with their classmates one more time before heading off in different directions, whether it’s college, the military or a new job,” said Angela Wright, president of Yokota High School Project Graduation.
The bash begins at 10:30 p.m. June 9 in the Yokota Officers’ Club — a few hours after the off-base Fussa City graduation ceremony.
Kadena and Kubasaki high schools on Okinawa plan Project Graduation events, Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific officials said Friday. E.J. King at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, also has launched the program this year.
Wright said the Project Graduation movement took shape 20 years ago in Maine after 18 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes over two graduation seasons. The goal is to prevent graduates from becoming accident statistics by keeping them off the roads and in a central location, she said.
“There’s not much here for kids to do after they graduate … and they can get into trouble off base,” said Craig Wright, vice president of Yokota High School Project Graduation.
The Wrights both work for the DODDS-Japan District Office at Yokota. They have a son who graduated a year ago and a daughter in the 10th grade at Yokota High School.
Since the start of the school year, Yokota Project Graduation has carried out several fund-raisers, bazaars, car washes and a dinner theater production at the high school. The committee has reached its goal of $15,000 to $16,000 after expenses and other operating costs, Angela Wright said. As a private organization, the group cannot receive DOD funding.
The Yokota party isn’t a lock-in, but before 6 a.m. graduates will be allowed to leave only if a parent or sponsor comes to pick them up, she said. The themed event will feature games, food, a disc jockey, entertainment and other activities, but planners say they want to maintain an element of surprise. Adult chaperones will be present.
More than $6,000 is being spent on prizes, Wright said. Awarded through drawings, they’ll include electronics and comforter sets.
Organizers say they hope 70 percent of the graduates attend. Each senior who shows up is guaranteed at least $50 in gifts, Angela Wright said.
Craig Wright said Yokota High School’s underclassmen also have played a large role in building the project.
“The Yokota community has worked hard to make this a memorable evening for the seniors,” he said, “but this gives the juniors and other underclassmen something to look forward to.”
The Yokota High School Project Graduation committee needs volunteers and chaperones for its June 9 senior party at the Yokota Officers’ Club. People who want to help should contact a board member: