How Project Graduation and Drug-Free Celebration Came into Existence
Project Graduation in Texas arose as a result of an employee’s efforts who worked for TXDOT (Texas Department of Transportation). Now retired, John McKay had attended a traffic safety conference in the early 1980s. In fact, this is where he learned about Maine’s Project Graduation events that followed graduation ceremonies. He discovered Maine sponsored overnight chemical-free graduation events. And, he brought ideas back with him to adapt for Texas high schools.
Further Details about How Project Graduation in Texas Emerged
Schools were aware that graduation was a time of year when students were at greatest risk for vehicle accidents. Most teen accidents were alcohol-related. As a result a number of Texas organizations backed the ideas for Project Graduation:
- Texas Safety Association
- The Congress of Parents and Teachers
- Texas Education Agency
- Texan’s War on Drugs
- the Texas Department of Health
- Texas Center for the Judiciary, Inc.
- Texas Department of Public Safety
In addition, during the 1983-84 school year, two schools piloted Project Graduation. However, awareness grew that high school proms were also potentially dangerous events for alcohol-related crashes. For that reason, the name changed to Project Celebration to include all events that put students at risk.
Objective of Project Celebration
Hosting chemical-free celebration events became a solution for schools and parents to keep students safe. TxDOT wards mini grants to school officials, parents and community partners to put on the events. In addition, throughout the school year, schools hold activities that provide ongoing education about impaired driving dangers. In particular, education focuses on the event of concern. The goal is to give students a safe environment for to celebrate—whether it’s homecoming weekend, spring break, prom or nearing graduation.
Despite continuing state and community efforts, sometimes students suffer injury or die in car accidents.
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