By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Although it will be smaller in scale, there will be a Yukon Project Graduation this year. And it will be outdoors in Yukon.
The popular celebration honoring Yukon High School graduates is set 9-11 p.m. Thursday, July 16 at Miller Stadium, 1777 S Yukon Parkway. The event will follow YHS graduation practice at 6:30 p.m. and annual senior class “breakfast” at 8 p.m.
YHS 2020 graduation activities were moved from May to July after the school year was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a “virtual” commencement May 19.
An in-person YHS graduation ceremony will be 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18 – also at the football field.
Yukon Project Graduation committee members were asked to plan an abbreviated two-hour celebration after the July 16 graduation rehearsal. Project Graduation’s volunteer committee is pleased to provide an actual event for the YHS Class of 2020.
“We’ll have prizes, food, games, and other activities for them to do,” Yukon Project Graduation President Janet Bell said. “Just like a normal Project Graduation, if a student wants to stay, they must stay the whole time – only this year that will be until 11 p.m.
“It will be similar to what we would normally do, just on a smaller scale.”
This will mark the first time since 1991 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 percent of each YHS class attends the epic event, enjoying a night filled with games, prizes, entertainment, and food.
Organizers realize attendance likely will be smaller for the mini-Project Graduation on July 16 because of other activities and summer plans. But they’re thrilled with this opportunity to celebrate the YHS Class of 2020, according to Bell.
“We were always going to figure out a way to give away the prizes and do all of that,” she said. “It’s just nice to be able to do it during an in-person celebration rather than having to message students to come pick up their gift cards.”
Some $20,000 has been raised to spend on the YHS graduates with money collected during the 2019-20 school year through donations and fund-raisers.
“We were very pleased with that, given the shortened timeframe for fund-raising,” Bell said. “We ended up in a pretty good spot.”
The shutdown forced the cancellation of one major benefit, a potato bar at the Yukon Masonic Lodge.
“That’s the big event where we ask the kids to get involved and help us sell tickets,” Bell said. “We weren’t able to do that, but we had a great auction and a great bingo night.”
Any parent who has contributed at least 10 volunteer hours during the school year can come attend the July 16 Project Graduation at Miller Stadium. Parent T-shirts are $20 each.
For more information on the 2020 YHS Project Graduation celebration, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 823-9078.