Project Graduation Committee to host test drive fundraiser

Published 9:44 am Thursday, September 20, 2018

CASSOPOLIS — This weekend the often vacant parking lot at the former Midwest Energy building on M-60 will be put to use to benefit Cassopolis Public Schools.

From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Cassopolis Public Schools will be hosting a Drive 4 Ur School event to raise money for Project Graduation for the class of 2019.

“There will be big tents and stuff set up for the day of the event,” said Teresa Dahlgren, who is on the Project Graduation committee. “Project Graduation is an important event for seniors because we want them to have a safe and fun graduation without any chemicals involved or alcohol and drugs.”

For the Drive 4 Ur School event, community members can show up and test drive new vehicles from C. Wimberly Ford in Dowagiac, and for every household that does this, $20 will be donated to the school district and Project Graduation. Community members can drive multiple vehicles if they choose to, but that will not add money to the total money raised.

The most that can be made from this event is $6,000, or 300 household drivers. Participating does not cost community members anything except for their time.

In order to participate, a member of the community must be 18 years or older, have a valid driver’s license and insurance and fill out a form/questionnaire beforehand.

“Our goal is to have as many people as possible because the more we make at this, the fewer fundraisers we have to have throughout the next year,” Dahlgren said.

A bake sale will also take place at the Drive 4 Ur School event, which Ford dealerships have hosted since 2007.

Project Graduation is a nationwide initiative, where schools raise money for seniors to participate in a safe graduation night celebration. The project began in Maine in 1980 and was created in direct response to 18 alcohol and drug-related deaths after graduation.

At Ross Beatty Jr.-Sr. High School, project graduation typically begins at around 5 or 6 p.m. on the night of graduation. The graduation ceremony for the Class of 2019 will be determined at the next school board meeting.

“The idea is to keep it a secret from the kids,” Dahlgren said. “We keep the kids out all night. We rent limo buses and take them to different places. Last year, they rented the fairgrounds and they brought in carnival rides and stuff, then they’ve also gone to Locked Up in Mishawaka and I think SkyZone.”

This year, the Project Graduation committee hopes to raise $20,000. For seniors to reserve a spot for the event it costs them $5, which goes towards their senior T-shirt. Dahlgren said that typically between 85 and 90 percent of seniors participate.

“It’s really important for the kids to have that option for graduation night,” she said. “It’s just really to keep them safe over that time period when they’re excited to graduate and become an adult.”