Daily Point of Light # 1766 Nov 9, 2000

Project Graduation is an all-night, drug-free event that is held for graduates of Nanakuli High and Intermediate School after their commencement exercises. Mrs. Violet Paris has been the Coordinator of the Project Graduation Program for the past six years. This program begins about an hour after the graduation ceremonies and lasts until sunrise the next day. Its aim is to have wholesome yet enjoyable activities for graduates that will keep them safe.

Traffic fatalities are still the leading killer of teens between the ages of 15 and 19. Project Graduation events are held to prevent deaths on the highways caused by teen drivers, especially those who illegally drink and then drive. It also relieves parents of worry and stress of the safety of their child on commencement night by providing a secure, safe party environment. All parents will know exactly where their graduates are and what is being offered at the celebration.

Paris’ concern was for the traffic fatalities – senseless deaths on the freeways – that were happening in her community and the communities-at-large to teenagers, especially during graduation time. It was this same concern that motivated her to volunteer for the position of coordinator for Nanakuli High and Intermediate School’s Project Graduation.

In addition to this, her community had a high rate of drug and alcohol abuse. She saw the program as a tool to defer needless deaths on the freeways and give them a positive alternative without alcohol or drugs. This was a means used to break down the traditions that were once in place and save lives while still celebrating. The program has helped keep them off highways and has saved lives.

Project Graduation keeps the students involved in the planning process because they have to provide information of what events they would like to have held and the Coordinator and the committee does the research and makes it all happen. Another integral part of the program is the fact that there is no cost involved. Other schools assess each student a fee to participate due to the high cost involved, but Paris has never charged anyone. Knowing that no additional money has to be spent during the high-cost time of graduation helps draw the students to celebrate.

Funds for this project are obtained through annual fundraising. Sponsors are solicited through local businesses. Paris has innovative ideas to secure funds. Along with these fund-raisers, she makes a personal contribution of $200 monthly – though most people are unaware of this – which again shows her wholehearted commitment to the program. Along with this program, Paris is a foster mom with the State of Hawaii Judiciary Courts. She nurtures and cares for teenagers that have already been in trouble at a young age. She is a woman who gives of herself unselfishly and never hesitates to help someone who is in need.