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History / Information

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Project Grad 2021 at MMU...

How did Project Graduation Begin?

Project Graduation began in Maine 20 years ago in response to the tragic loss of 18 lives in alcohol and drug related crashes following graduation. During the 1979 commencement period (May 15-June 30) in Maine, seven of the 12 deaths among teenagers that resulted from driving under the influence of alcohol occurred in the area of Oxford Hills. In response to this loss of life, a school-community coalition from Oxford Hills developed and implemented a program called “Project Graduation,” a chemical-free graduation celebration, during the 1979-1980 school year. During Oxford Hills’ 1980 commencement period, there were no fatalities, no alcohol or drug-related injuries, and no arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. Maine’s first Project Graduation was such a success that many other high schools adopted similar programs. By 1986, Project Graduation activities were held in fifty states.  Today the term “Project Graduation” describes an illegal substance free graduation celebration sponsored by the community under the supervision of many adult volunteers.

Did Project Graduation work?

The number of fatalities occurring among 15 to 19 year old Maine residents during the graduation period that involved teenagers driving under the influence of alcohol decreased from 12 in 1979 to one in 1984, with an intermittent drop to zero in 1983.  During this period, the number of high schools participating in Project Graduation increased from 1 to 129.

Project Grad History

Did you know...

  • In 1986, Project Graduation was held in all 50 states and two Canadian provinces. The project received national attention in 1987 in Good Housekeeping magazine and again in 1989 in Woman's Day magazine.
  • The primary aims of Project Graduation activities are to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking, drugging and driving and to reduce the number of youth involved in alcohol and other drug-related highway crashes.
  • Project Graduation and the chemical-free celebrations are the new tradition for graduating seniors.
  • All school-related functions are supposed to be chemical-free, but what makes Project Graduation different is the attitude of the students. They make a conscious decision to enjoy their graduation night without alcohol or other drugs. 

Wikipedia Page

Automobiles, teens, and drinking...

  • Did you know? Each year, automobile accidents take the lives of nearly 3,000 teens in the 16-19 age group, and a quarter of a million more are sent to hospital emergency rooms with serious injuries. "Death by car" is the No. 1 mortality risk for adolescents, and alcohol consumption is implicated in about 33 percent of these fatal accidents.
  • Things get worse when graduation arrives. The percentage of automobile fatalities that involve alcohol jumps from 33 percent to 40 percent on graduation night, which is a testament to how drinking and driving spikes when kids are in the mood to party.

Dangers of Drinking & Driving

  • Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions reported that there are 13 million teen drivers in the United States. Out of those 13 million drivers, 3 million teens will drive impaired over prom, graduation, and summer vacation. In addition, they surveyed teens regarding their perceptions of driving ability and drinking. Of those surveyed, 62% of teens thought that drinking impaired their driving, 19% felt it had no impact,  and 19% felt it made them better drivers.
  • It is estimated that after high school graduation, accidents related to alcohol increase by 70%!



What can we do during the high risk times?

One answer is to provide a safe environment for students during graduation. The 2021 Project Graduation Committee is seeking your support. For over 25 years, MMU parents and community members have been providing each Senior class with a 12 hour drug, alcohol, and tobacco free evening on the night of graduation. The concept of safe after graduation celebrations was established to keep teens safe while allowing them to have that one last night of fun with their classmates.

If you would like to support this wonderful event and help our senior class celebrate their commencement, donations can be sent to:

Project Grad 2021
℅ Mount Mansfield Union High School
211 Browns Trace Rd.
Jericho, VT 05465