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They've been up to their elbows in Jell-O together. They've played musical chairs together. They've shared pizza together. And they've signed each other's T-shirts. The only difference was the color pen they used: red or purple.
For the past 21 years, Project Graduation has been the one time our local high school students get together for a combined celebration. On this one special night, all the rivalries of the past four years seemed to take a back seat to fun.
Throughout the years, I've been amazed that the community has so wholeheartedly supported such a combined effort. There was no "this" school or "that" school. It was never an "us" or a "them."
Project Graduation began in 1986 as a means to provide new graduates with a drug- and alcohol-free atmosphere in which to enjoy what could be their last time together before each goes off in their respective directions.
The event, in the past sponsored by the Campbellsville Younger Woman's Club, was open exclusively to those who had just graduated.
During the night, graduates participated in various games and earned points or play money that they used to bid on prizes at the end of the night. Prizes in the past have ranged from computers and TVs to boom boxes.
The event usually attracted a majority of the graduates, generally as many as 85 to 90 percent.
Each year, the schools have been able to work out graduation schedules so that the combined party would continue.
Now, as a story on today's front page explains, it's history.
For the first time ever, there will be no combined celebration.
Project Graduation will be separately held for each high school - just like everything else is all year long.
I realize I don't have a dog in this fight. But I'm bothered by it nonetheless.
For this one special night, the schools worked together, the parents worked together and the students partied together.
It may still be the event (separate) that it has been in the past because we live in such a giving community. But the community, which has done such a great job of supporting the combined effort with food and gifts, will now have a quandary on their hands - who to give what merchandise to, and how much. By separating the event, it puts even more pressure on the community to treat both school systems evenly.
It's not fair to the community to be expected to choose or divide, and it's not fair to the students who may have to do with less because resources are spread so thin.
The school systems have made adjustments before, so why, after 21 years, can't we adjust some more?
Now it will be back to "this" school or "that" school, "us" and "them."
It's a shame this wonderful tradition couldn't have been worked out. When there's one common goal - keeping our seniors safe on their special night - there should be one common party.
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On another note, take a glance at page 2A of today's paper. Count the number of citations for "failure to wear seat belt."
There are 54 ... from one week's court appearances.
Shouldn't that tell us something?