Supper and auction support Project Graduation

On Monday evening at GRHS, the local community turned out in droves to support the 137 members of the Class of 2013.

The Project Graduation Spaghetti Supper and Auction brought people of all ages together and Tiger Pride was in the air.

“This is my ninth year to help with this event and it’s very important as our only fundraiser of the year,” said Project Graduation Coordinator and GRJHS Associate Principal Jeff Harris. “Our goal is to raise $50,000 to $60,000. Project Graduation is put on by a non-profit organization called New Focus Somervell County and I’m the chairman of the board for it.”

On Tuesday, Harris was very pleased to report approximately $73,000 was raised by the event. He said Project Graduation began locally in 1987 as a way to have a safe party for graduating seniors free from alcohol and drugs on a very important night in their lives.

“If we keep one kid from going out partying and getting hurt, then we won,” Harris said. “It’s also a chance for kids to celebrate together as a class and get a bunch of really cool prizes.”

Harris mentioned a variety of activities planned for Project Graduation.

“We’ll have obstacle courses, games of chance, games of skill and game show games going all through the night,” he said. “At the end of the night, we’ll have an auction for certain prizes and also a random drawing for more prizes. In past years, we’ve given away up to $25,000 worth of scholarships, as well as laptop computers, stereos, TVs and other electronics.”

Harris came up with an idea that will make this year’s Project Graduation different than all the rest.

“This year, the senior class voted to donate 10 percent of whatever money we raised to West ISD to help in their recovery efforts,” he said. “Those guys are our neighbors. We faced them across the court and the field for many years.

“Our kids have grown up playing against them, so even if they don’t know them personally they know their faces. I proposed this idea to the kids and immediately they were all about it.”

Harris said the turnout on Monday was larger than in recent years and he called it “tremendous”.

“It’s unbelievable the support the community gives this event each and every year,” he said.

Senior Alex Dahl was impressed with the community support as well.

“This night shows what Glen Rose is all about to see all the people that came to support us,” she said. “We’re a close-knit community, but people aren’t just here for us. They’re supporting the community of West as well. They lost everything, so just giving them this little bit of money is our way of letting them know we’re here to support them.”

The night began with a silent auction that ran most of the way through the spaghetti supper before giving way to a live auction. Over 1,000 silent auction items were sold, while 119 live auction items - including baked goods - were sold.

“Everything from gift certificates to artwork to large items such as a truck toolbox, a gas grill and musical instruments,” Harris said. ?

For the live auction, perhaps the most cherished item was the 2013 senior quilt. It was originally sold to Craig Dodson for $950 and then donated back. Mike Williams then bought it for $550 and he also donated it back before Lone Star Disposal bought it once more at $625.

“It makes me happy because we’ll be able to look back on this and see how we’ve changed,” Dahl said of the quilt. “It’s a really special item. We’ve grown up together since kindergarten, and so it’s really like a brotherhood and sisterhood for our class. It’s kind of bittersweet to know our time together is ending.”

Harris said the thought process was to select items for the live auction that might initiate people openly bidding against each other.

“We have a ton of stuff for the live auction – a trip to Florida and other trips, a ton of signed sports memorabilia, collectors' items, handmade stuff that the seniors have built in shop class and I’m really proud of the craftsmanship they’ve put into it,” he said.

The high item of the evening ended up being an authenticated check signed by baseball legend Ty Cobb. It sold for $2,300 to Jesse McClure of Simple Simon's Pizza in the live auction.

Harris had some folks he wanted to make sure to thank for their help ensuring success on Monday.

“I would really like to thank Dwayne Griffin, Patty Snodgrass and Becky Curtis, who are all on the New Focus board with me,” he said. “Thanks to all the parents that have volunteered, all the businesses that have donated. The neat thing is businesses will donate to this and then come bid on the stuff they’ve donated. The high school cafeteria staff and office staff have both been instrumental in helping us.”

Harris knows this group of seniors well and he’s enjoying these final weeks with them.

“I’ve known these kids since at least sixth grade and this class is great,” he said. “It’s one of the most involved groups of kids – and parents – that I’ve ever worked with.”