30 years making Miller memories

YHS Project Graduation hits milestone with May 20th event

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Yukon High School seniors celebrate during the 2020 Project Graduation “big event” last July at Miller Stadium: From left, Hannah Dillon, Lea Hildebrand and Nathaly Perilla. The 30th annual Yukon Project Graduation will be Thursday, May 20 at the YHS football field after graduation rehearsal. (Photo by Cara Laverty)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

An annual tradition that started 30 years ago this spring will provide lasting memories for the Yukon High School Class of 2021.

Members of this year’s Miller graduating class will gather for the 2021 YHS Project Graduation celebration from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at the YHS football field, 1777 S Yukon Parkway.

The “big event” – featuring games, entertainment, competitions, photo backdrops, prizes, and food for the seniors – will follow YHS graduation rehearsal at Miller Stadium.

“We’re going to have as much as we can,” said Janet Bell, president of the Yukon Project Graduation committee. “Logistically, we obviously don’t have as much room to provide all the activities we normally do.”

Project Graduation provides Yukon’s graduating class the chance to come together for fun before heading off to college and career.

Yukon’s first Project Graduation was May 1991 at Redlands Community College in El Reno.

The event was launched as a safe, alcohol- and drug-free graduation night party for new YHS graduates – and that goal has been met each year since.

In those formative years, Yukon’s graduating class was about half the size of what it has grown to.

An overnight event hosted by Redlands was presented every year until 2020, when COVID-19 threw a wrench in YHS graduation plans.

A scaled-down version of Project Graduation was last July 16 at Miller Stadium, also following YHS graduation practice. Attendance was down because the event was in the middle of the summer.

“There will be about 580 graduates this year, and we hope to have our normal turnout of close to 90% participation,” Bell said.

With this being the 30th anniversary of Yukon’s Project Graduation, the committee wants members of the YHS Class of ’91 to participate in this year’s celebration.

“We have reached out to them and are brainstorming how to get them involved in the event,” Bell said.

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A LATE START

Members of the YHS Project Graduation committee must collect about $35,000 to present the May 20th event – and they’re far from that goal.

“We did get a late start on fund-raising this year and have had very limited fund-raising,” Bell explained. “We weren’t able to have bingo night or the live auction.”

To help raise money, a potato bar is tentatively set for early April.

An online auction will feature larger-ticket items like graduation seats, street naming rights and football season tickets.

A luminary fund-raiser on the night of Project Graduation is planned by the Chisholm Trail Park gazebo. Luminaries honoring this year’s YHS graduates will line a pond at the park.

“This is an opportunity for all YHS alumni to help support the class of 2021,” Bell said.

T-shirt and sweatshirt sales and the “Amazon Smiles” program also benefit YHS Project Graduation.

More donations from Yukon parents, businesses and other supporters are needed to make the May 20th event a rousing success for the YHS Class of 2021.

“It will be a busy next couple of months,” Bell said. “We’ve already had great parental support and will be looking for more help from our community.”

Enjoying last year’s Yukon Project Graduation “big event” and 2020 graduates, from left, Kristy Lee, Natalie Wootton and Gavin Pruett. Attendance was down since last year’s scaled-down celebration was in the middle of the summer. (Photo by Cara Laverty)

COMMITTEE MAKES PLANS

The 2021 YHS Project Graduation committee always welcomes parent volunteers. The next committee meeting will be 6:30 p.m. March 23.

Anyone who wants to help the night of Project Graduation must have a current background check on file with the school and at least five volunteer hours.

YHS Project Graduation board members are: President Janet Bell, Vice President Janet Harris, Treasurer Nicole Flow, and Secretary Rebecca Bagley.

For more information on the 2020 YHS Project Graduation celebration, email yukonprojectgraduation1991@gmail.com .

Yukon Public Schools has announced the 2021 YHS Graduation Ceremony will be 7 p.m. Friday, May 21 at Miller Stadium to allow the YHS Class of 2021 to safely celebrate this “momentous occasion” with family and friends:

“The date, time and location change will ensure graduates receive the recognition they deserve after prevailing over an unmatched high school career. Although traditionally held in Oklahoma City, the district anticipates moving the ceremony to Yukon will enrich the experience for graduates and equip our community to follow public health and safety guidelines throughout the event.”

Friends since their freshman year, from left, Cade Parsons, Mickey Boyer and Matthew Wilson pose in front of the “Friends”-themed photo props during YHS Project Graduation in July 2020 at Miller Stadium. The south end-zone of the football field featured yard games like cornhole, basket toss and ladder golf. (Photo by Cara Laverty)
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