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MARBLE FALLS — Though graduation is still a little more than two months away, organizers of the 2017 Marble Falls High School Project Graduation are facing crunch time to pull off the alcohol- and drug-free post commencement celebration.

“The community really needs to reach out and support this project,” said Gayln Woerner, a mother of a MFHS 2017 graduate. “I think when people know what it’s about, they’ll want to support it.”

Project Graduation, which occurs across the country during commencement season, was born out of tragedy. In the spring of 1979, the community of Oxford Hills, Maine, lost 12 teenagers between May 15 and June 30. Seven of the deaths were the results of someone driving while under the influence. In response to the losses, the community organized an alcohol- and drug-free graduation ceremony for students the following year.

During that initial event, the community lost no teenagers due to drug- or alcohol-related incidents nor were any of the teens arrested or injured.

That first event led to more communities and schools following its lead to what has become Project Graduation.

Parents of the current class raise the money for the celebration, but, Woerner pointed out, it can be challenging. Though she’s not on the 2017 MFHS Project Graduation committee (she has served on one in the past), she knows the challenges the committee members face.

“They aren’t professional fundraisers,” she said. “They are just parents trying to make sure their kids have a safe event after graduation.”

After MFHS graduation on May 27, the graduates load up on buses and head to the event. Adults supervise the celebration, and once there, the graduates must stay.

“It’s such an important event for these kids,” Woerner added. “We live in an area that really supports kids, especially children, but here’s a way to show our teenagers that we care about them.”

Supporting the 2017 MFHS Project Graduation is fairly simple. Organizers set up a page. Go to the site and enter “Project Graduation 2017=MFHS” to find the page. People can make donations at the click of a mouse or a touch on a smartphone.

“We really could use the community’s support on this,” Woerner said. “The kids could use their support. That’s who this is really all about.”