EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Caps, gowns and diplomas were the order of the day but the night belonged to T-shirts, sneakers and fluorescent hats for Egg Harbor Township High School’s Project Graduation. In its 26th year, volunteers work all year to raise the funds, build the sets and create the decorations for the event. This year’s theme: Up All Night at the Movies.
And up all night they were. Nearly 800 newly graduated seniors and their friends made one last trip to the high school for the big post-graduation party. Vignettes of favorite movies such as “Mary Poppins,” “Mama Mia,” “Harry Potter” and many more lined the walls and hung from the ceiling. The gym was filled with inflatables where you could race through an obstacle course, battle like a gladiator, shoot hoops, play a friend version of whack-a-mole, create selfies or just hang out and listen to the music.
There were games, pogo sticks, race cars, caricaturists and food; mountains of food and friends flocked to the café to recharge through the night. Throughout the night the new grads won prizes to take on to the next chapter of their lives, such as laptops, beach chairs, earbuds, and other items donated to the event or purchased through the funds raised throughout the year. The Project Graduation party ran till 5 a.m.
Because graduation is so often a night that kids will party-hop, drink and get behind the wheel, law enforcement came up with an alternative to that scenario in Project Graduation. It was to provide an alcohol and drug-free event where kids can spend the evening in a safe place and have a great time rather than going out drinking and driving.
Organizer Scott Mahrer has been involved since Project Graduation launched in 1993 and spent Friday evening attending to details, making sure all the kids as well as the hard-working volunteers enjoyed the special night.