YHS graduates will still be honored

Options studied for alternative Project Graduation celebration

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Members of last year’s Yukon High School graduating class crowd into Redlands Community College in El Reno for the annual Yukon Project Graduation celebration in May 2019. This scene will not be repeated in 2020, although the parent committee is studying options to honor this year’s graduates. (Photo provided)

By Conrad Dudderar

Senior Staff Writer

Yukon High School will honor its 2020 graduates – although the post-commencement celebration will be much different than in years past.

Yukon Project Graduation 2019-20 committee members are working with YHS Principal Melissa Barlow and other school leaders to develop ideas for some sort of celebratory event.

They will identify options that comply with all Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and school district guidelines due to COVID-19, said Yukon Project Graduation President Janet Bell.

“We still want to honor our graduates and spend some money on them,” Bell said. “We are trying to figure out what we can do.

“We just have to figure out the logistics.”

This will mark the first time since 1990 that YHS will not have the overnight Project Graduation at Redlands Community College in El Reno.

Project Graduation – which began 30 years ago as a safe drug- and alcohol-free celebration for Yukon’s newly minted graduates – offers the graduating class one last chance to be together before heading off to college and career.

Typically, 85-90 % of each YHS class attends the epic event, enjoying a night filled with games, prizes, entertainment, and food.

The traditional YHS commencement at State Fair Park Arena – which typically attracts thousands of people – will be replaced this year with a “virtual” ceremony set May 19. The final day of the 2019-20 school year is May 8.

‘FIGURE OUT THE LOGISTICS’

The goal is to offer an alternative Yukon Project Graduation sometime in May or the first part of June.

“Caps and gowns have already been distributed so we’re just trying to coordinate so that we don’t have to wait until July or August,” Bell said. “We are still going to try to move forward with giveaways and things we’d normally do that ‘night of’ so that we can honor the students.

“We’re trying to see what that looks like, obviously, because we have the whole ‘shelter-in-place’ and distancing restrictions. We can’t all get together and have a big raffle or anything like that.”

Several annual fund-raisers have been presented during the 2019-20 school year to support Project Graduation – an auction/dinner, bingo night and Miller apparel sales. An annual potato bar at the Yukon Masonic Lodge was canceled.

“We had originally raised around $17,000 to $18,000,” Bell said. “But we will be giving some of that back because some of the funds were raised for (specific events) that won’t happen. For example, we sold reserved seating to the graduation ceremony. We’ll be refunding those people those dollars.”

The Yukon Project Graduation committee expects to have between $10,000 and $15,000 to honor the YHS Class of 2020 – in some form or fashion.

“We do still have a good chunk of money to spend on the students,” Bell said. “We are still going to move forward.

“I’m not sure what that looks like, but we’re going to make it happen.

“We appreciate everyone that donated through this year, and we’ll get started in August for next year.”

Anyone who has any suggestions should contact Bell at yukonprojectgraduation1991@gmail.com or (405) 823-9078.