On Project Grad, ‘Big Event,’ retirement


A dream that started 30 years ago this year will keep Yukon High School graduates safe this May on the night of commencement. The idea for YHS Project Graduation began in 1989 with the vision of longtime Yukon resident Carole Garner.

In the late ‘80s, parents were notorious for having overnight parties at their homes and serving alcohol so their kids could drink and “be safe.” Carole was opposed to serving alcohol to teens and tried to convince fellow parents to stop the practice.

But she was treated rudely. So Carole asked fellow Yukon parent Pat Dannemiller to help her come up with a way for YHS seniors to celebrate graduation sans alcohol. These ladies learned about a program at a south Texas high school called Project Graduation. They asked officials at that school to mail a video (yes, that’s how it was done then) of the event.

After watching the video and learning more about Project Graduation in Texas, Carole Garner and Pat Dannemiller decided Yukon needed something like that. It would be one final opportunity for the YHS senior class to be together. Games, fun activities, prizes, and lots of food would be enjoyed at Yukon’s Project Graduation.

Carole visited with then-Redlands Community College President Larry Devane about hosting the Yukon Project Graduation. He agreed and the rest is history. The first YHS Project Graduation night was in May 1991, the year both Carole’s and Pat’s sons graduated.

Each year since then, this all-night, alcohol- and drug-free celebration has been a real community effort. In those early years during the 1990s, the YHS graduating classes ranged from 350-400 students. This year, about 600 graduates will receive diplomas at commencement.

Traditionally, between 85-90 percent of the YHS senior class attends Project Graduation. Each student must sign a “contract” to remain on the Redlands’ campus the entire time and refrain from any alcohol use.

With so many YHS graduates participating, the YHS Project Graduation parent committee is tasked with raising $30,000-$50,000 to cover the costs of all the activities, prizes and related items to ensure the event is a “night to remember” for our grads.

I have enjoyed getting to know this year’s YHS Project Graduation president, 1990 YHS graduate Angela (Fabian) Mogg. I have worked with Angela to promote various fund-raisers she and her dedicated committee plan and present.

This has included the potato bar at the Yukon Masonic Lodge, a family bingo event, Miller Wear shirt sales, restaurant “dine-out” nights, and last Saturday’s annual auction-dinner.
One last major fund-raiser will be a third annual Top Golf Tournament on Saturday

morning, April 27 at Top Golf-OKC, 11313 Pawnee Drive. Registration deadline is April 20. Registration is $100 per person with two-person teams.

NOTE: You don’t have to be a good golfer to enjoy Top Golf. It is quite entertaining and the April 27 benefit will include a breakfast buffet, prizes and contests. Fun and a good cause, all wrapped up in one.

Interested? If no, why not? If yes, call Angela at 834-5774 or Scott Webb at 664-1716.
All YHS seniors and their parents should thank Angela and her fellow officers, Latitia Morgan, Janet Bell and Jennifer Winfrey, for the many hours of time and toil they’ve contributed to make sure 2019 Project Graduation will be grand.

Yukon Public Schools’ patrons are encouraged to show their support by attending these fundraisers or contributing. Contact Angela by phone or email – yukonprojectgraduation1991@gmail.com

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Are you ready for a real Big Event? No, literally …

A group of University of Oklahoma students will be in our fine town this Saturday, April 13 for the annual “OU Big Event” in Yukon.

Each spring, OU sends students here to spruce up Yukon parks for a huge one-day student community service project. Partnering with Yukon Parks & Recreation, the students will plant trees and landscaping from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Chisholm Trail and Yukon City parks.

If you visit either park this Saturday, stop by and thank these Sooners for their great contribution!

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Yukon residents owe Earline Smaistrla a debt of gratitude as she will soon leave city council service after nearly two decades. Earline is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and has always voted in Yukon’s best interests. She’s also a good ballet dancer (see “Nutcracker” in December). Thank you Earline for all you’ve done!

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Congratulations to Gary Knight, who retired after 28 years at the Yukon Police Department. Gary was a steady patrol officer and supervisor for many years on our police force.

Gary fingerprinted me four years ago at the police station. No, I wasn’t getting booked into jail for public disturbance. Rather, I was having my fingerprints done as a requirement for an armed security officer license.

The only person left at the YPD since I began in Yukon in the early 1990s is the chief, John Corn.

At the Yukon Fire Department, the last remaining member since I came to Yukon is Jimmy White, who started in 1989.