The organizers of Project Graduation are  working again this year to keep graduating seniors safe on their big night of celebration.

Project Graduation puts on all-night lock-in parties for 10 area high schools to provide an alcohol-, tobacco- and drug-free celebration for seniors following their commencement ceremonies.  

The events are parent-coordinated and rely on volunteers as well as monetary and in-kind donations from businesses and organizations. Food and beverages, decorations, gift cards and more are needed.  

The goal of the program is avoiding drinking and driving incidents by keeping students off the streets and in a fun, safe environment. The evening’s festivities include music, entertainment, games, food, gifts and the opportunity to win prizes.

The concept started in Maine in the early 1980s, after 18 graduates died in alcohol-related accidents over a two-year period. It has since been adopted in school districts across the country. In 1992, Mandeville High School was the first to start Project Graduation in Louisiana.

The Slidell/Pearl River Project Graduation is a combined organizational effort among Slidell, Northshore, Salmen , Pope John Paul II and Pearl River high schools. Parties will be held on the evenings of each school's respective commencement ceremonies during the first week of May at the Fritchie Park gym in Slidell. Director is Chera Pickett.

“The goal of our program is to keep graduates and the community safe on graduation night. Our motto is ‘If just one young life is saved, it is all worthwhile,’” said Wendy Way, fundraising and publicity chairwoman for Slidell/Pearl River Project Graduation.

Anyone interested in volunteering may attend a meeting at 7 p.m. April 29 at the Fritchie Park gym, 901 W. Howze Beach Road in Slidell.

To donate, call Way at (985) 768-9968 or e-mail Monetary donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 1696, Slidell, LA 70459. For more information or to register to volunteer, go to or e-mail

Fontainebleau High School's Project Graduation party will be held on May 4 at the Castine Center in Mandeville. Project director is Clarissa Menard, and party director is Teresa Cantrelle.

“It’s a safe, fun night for our graduates — games, good food and everyone goes home with a great prize. We still need volunteers and sponsors,” Cantrelle said.

To provide a donation or to volunteer, go to Monetary donations may be mailed to: P.O. Box 8541, Mandeville, LA 70470.

Lakeshore High School's Project Graduation event will be held on May 4 at the Pelican Park brown gym. Project director is Mariann Abadie-Feske, and event director is Laura Zambiasi.

Zambiasi said the graduates will turn in their keys, phones and any other electronics at the door of the party, and they will have plenty of entertainment throughout the night without using technology. “I think it’s great because the kids, they bond that night, they form friendships,” she said. “I think that’s huge. It gives them a fun night.”

To donate or to volunteer to Lakeshore Project Graduation, e-mail, or Monetary donations may be mailed to the school to the attention of Marianne Abadie-Feske at 1 Titan Trace, Mandeville, LA 70448. For more information, go to

Mandeville High School will hold its Project Graduation on May 7 at the Castine Center. Project director is Jessica Johnson, and party director is Kelsey Remmelts. For more information or to donate or volunteer, e-mail or go to Monetary donations may be mailed to: P.O. Box 430, Mandevillle, LA, 70470.

Archbishop Hannan High School's Project Graduation party will be held on May 17 at the school gym. For more information or to donate, e-mail Charles Baird, director of student activities and founder of Project Graduation at Hannan High, at

Covington High's Senior Celebration  will be held on May 3 at the Louisiana National Guard building. To donate or to volunteer, e-mail Karen Schenck, director, at Monetary donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 4254, Covington, LA 70434. For more information, go to