Project Graduation '06

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Hundreds of graduating seniors from nine local high schools will be locked in for the all night event.

Stephen Ballinger, a senior at Chiles High School, said, "You got basketball, you've got swimming, casino games, movie night, so it's gonna be a blast."

Project Graduation starts late after graduation and ends the next morning. The event is run by parent volunteers who say it is a safe alternative for teens.

Nancy Varn, a parent volunteer, said, "This is the place they need to be after graduation and I can't understand why they wouldn't want to be here."

Justin Varn said, "For senior class this is the last time to see your friends and be able to just hang out and have fun."

And the project has paid off. Both LCSO and TPD report that last year there were no fatalities and only one DUI during graduation weekend.

Chief Walter McNeil of the Tallahassee Police Department said, "I think this is such a tremendous community effort and any time you've got the community coming together with young people with the outcome being saving lives, and that's really what happens here. It is so great."

Larry Campbell, Leon County Sheriff, said, "You don't put a real vice on them. You let them have the fun and the activity, but you know they're not out driving and drinking and that's what it's all about."

In its 22 years it's impossible to know how many lives have been saved by Project Graduation because of accidents that didn't occur, but organizers say it's kept their most important possessions safe.

Project Graduation will take place between May 18 and May 27 with high schools celebrating at the Fun Station, Premier Fitness, the FSU Leach Center, and the Southwood Community Center.