The caps and gowns are almost ready for about 150 Bridge City High School graduates, however, funds lack for the annual Project Graduation lockdown where parents provide a safe alternative to post-commencement partying.

Event organizers have taken in $50,000 in the past, but this year because of Hurricane Ike the group only has about half that, according to Project Graduation Committee Chairman John Gothia.

“A lot of businesses have supported us,” he says. “People are still giving. It’s not that they’re not. But we don’t have as much as in the past. Everyone is working to get their businesses and houses back, and that’s what they should be doing. As far as prizes go, we’re in a bind because that’s what gets the kids to come to the event. The more we have, the more they’re likely to stay.”

As with typical Project Graduations, students will sign an agreement that allows them to leave the gymnasium lockdown at any time. However, if they choose to go – their parents will be notified.

Gothia says 150 is about the average number per year of Bridge City High graduates. 

“We didn’t lose that many. The majority of them came back [after the storm],” he says. “Of course, the majority of them also aren’t in their houses, either – I’d say about 60 percent are in FEMA trailers, including my own.” 

Organizers have set up a “Casino Night” affair and games that allow seniors to win tickets. Throughout the night, tickets are drawn for prizes.

“We let the seniors pick the kind of food they wanted and the overwhelming response was crawfish,” Gothia says. “We’ll have someone come in and cook that for us. We’ll have a DJ, a hypnotist, putt-putt, ringtoss and basketball. We always have the prizes lined up, but we space the drawings out. We do a few up front, then later we do a few more. If we did them all at the end – everybody would just show up then. We’ll draw all night – and usually everyone just stays all night.”

The class of 2009 is to be congratulated, he added; not only for commencement but getting through tough odds.

 “They earned it,” he said. “They were all facing a ton of adversity after the storm. It’s their accomplishment and it’s one to be proud of. Theirs will still be a very happy event – whereas it could have been very stressful.”

Graduation is May 29. To contribute to Project Graduation, send to Bridge City Project Graduation, P.O. Box 1361, Bridge City 77611, or call Gothia at 882-1217.