Niles High School to host live wrestling tournament to raise money for Project Graduation

NILES — In what is expected to be an action-packed evening, Niles High School will host a live wrestling tournament featuring pro-wrestlers from EHF Entertainment. The event will help to raise proceeds for Project Graduation.

The wrestling tournament will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, March 16, at 1441 Eagle St. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets must be purchased at the door and cost $7 per person or $30 for five people. Children 3 and under are free.

After the show, the wrestlers will be available for autographs and photos for $1. Additionally, people who attend can also participate in a 50/50 drawing. Snacks can be purchased from a concession stand.

Each year, after Niles graduating seniors toss their graduation caps to the wind, they get the chance to celebrate the occasion with a safe activity-packed all-nighter called Project Graduation.

The event is organized by a group of parent volunteers who keep the destinations of Project Graduation top secret. The tradition has lasted more than 20 years and draws hundreds of students to participate. In the past, the evening’s events have included dancing, ice skating, visiting local theaters and a host of other events, always ending the event at 6 a.m. at the Howard Township Fire Department for a pancake breakfast.

This year, about 195 students are expected to graduate across the district and are welcomed to join the event. Laurie Bubala, the event coordinator, said Project Graduation offers youth a fun and safe way for them to celebrate the momentous occasion.

“It is a drug and alcohol free event for the kids,” Bubala said. “And they get to create memories with their graduating class.”

Bubala said they anticipate costs for this year’s Project Graduation to be about $25,000. All funds for Project Graduation are raised through donations. Throughout the year, students and faculty help to host several fundraisers for the event. Students who participate in Project Graduation also contribute $20 per person.

In the past, a dodgeball tournament has been among the fundraisers used to raise money for the project. But this year, Bubala said they wanted to offer something different to the community. One of the Project Graduation volunteer’s brothers is an EHF fighter, so they decided to reach out to them to see if they would put on a tournament. When EHF fighters heard it was for a good cause, they offered to do the tournament free of charge.   

Students will also be able to watch one of their Niles Community School administrators compete for the title. Cody “DW” Kelley, an administrative assistant for Northside Child Development Center, will be among the pro wrestlers squaring off for the championship title.

Bubala said staff thought seeing a “hometown hero” compete would an exciting element to the tournament.

To win free tickets to the event, Bubala asked people to answer the question: Who did Sadon defeat to become the new EHS World Champion? Answers can be sent via email Bubala at jedlow41@sbclocal.net. The email subject line should read: “Project Graduation.” Answers must be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday.

Bubala encouraged those looking for an evening of entertainment to visit the event and support local youth.

“The event acts as a positive role model for kids,” Bubala said. “It is designed to celebrate with your class.”

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