Categories: Byline Stories - NewsEventsFeatured NewsNeighbors helping neighborsWestborough

Thanks to generosity of many, Westborough’s Project Graduation is a huge hit

By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

(l to r) Project Graduation board members Maura Shunney, Chris Bersani, and Geoff Spofford;  Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., Peter Gardner, Curry Printing, and board member Wendy Kelley (Photo/Bonnie Adams)

Westborough –Westborough High School’s graduation ceremony, held June 2 at the school’s athletic field, was one of traditional pomp, circumstance and celebration, shared with family, friends, teachers, and administrators. But it was after that moving ceremony that another celebration was held for the graduates – a spectacular all night party held at Northborough’s Teamworks. There the kids found elaborate, color-filled rooms decorated in the theme of “Safari” filled with delicious foods and non-alcoholic drinks, games, and various activities. Special guests included a hypnotist, fortune teller, and even a few exotic animals such as an alligator, boa constrictor, lemur, and long-haired rabbit.

The party, sponsored by the nonprofit group Project Graduation, is an annual initiative that is powered by many volunteers and generous sponsors, according to Geoff Spofford, who serves as the group’s president.

“This is a way to help the kids celebrate together in a safe, chemical-free and alcohol-free way,” he said.

But this was no drab, boring party.

Starting at 6 a.m. that morning, a team of volunteers, with the assistance of Mark’s Moving and Storage, transferred items that had been stored at the Westborough Shopping Center in a space that Dona and Eugene Colangelo of Julio’s Enterprises had allowed the group to use.

Then the volunteers spent hours on things such as decorations, setting up sports games, card games, inflatables and a photo booth, to make sure there was no chance of anyone ever being bored.

Spofford said the night was a huge hit with the kids.

“The students enjoyed a wonderful final night with their classmates, jumping on the large inflatable obstacle course, playing in a volleyball tournament, eating and eating abundant food selections, drinking gallons of water, Gatorade and juice,” he said. “They chose to play cards at the poker and blackjack tables with their friends, to take photographs at the green screen complete with costumes, or at the various photo opportunities set up by our magnificent decorating committee, including a jeep that was tremendously popular.  They had their fortunes told by a fortune teller and temporary tattoos airbrushed on.  They played soccer, Frisbee, cornhole, canjam. “

“They left at 5 a.m. with their Westborough Ranger laundry bags, a gift from the Project Graduation Board of Trustees, with smiles and appreciation to the volunteers.

Prior to the party, the organizers invited the sponsors to a special reception so they could see the venue. Peter and Kelly Gardner, of Curry Printing, who donated the printing for the invitations that were sent to the students, were one of the first sponsors to arrive.

“It’s amazing,” Peter Gardner said, as he viewed the transformed space. “You really did a fantastic job.”

Also attending the reception was Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., who gave the group a check for $750.

Early noted that it was important for adults to show leadership, such as what the Project Graduation organizers were doing.

“It’s prevention at its best and shows responsible adults leading the way,” he said. “Parents and other adults may think its ok to serve kids alcohol in their homes but tragedies can still happen. The more people we have doing things like [Project Graduation] the better.”

“I would much rather be able to help prevent an accident, than have to investigate it afterwards,” he added.

(Photos submitted)

A poster lists all of the sponsors for the event.
Project Graduation Board of Trustees go for a ride – (l to r) Maura Shunney, Wendy Kelley, Tammy Stott, Chris Bersani (up high), and  Geoff Spofford (driving)
Former Police Chief Alan Gordon and his 7- year-old granddaughter Aaliyah VanDam came to see the set up and took a “drive” in the Jeep.
A crew of volunteers prepares for set up.
Mark’s Moving and Storage once again assisted in moving the party items to the venue.
" Community Advocate Staff : ."