Local News

Project Graduation Canceled in Wake County

Wake County high school seniors are finding new plans for post-graduation parties.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County PTA Council was forced to cancel an annual post-graduation celebration due to a lack of security volunteers.

"Project Graduation" gives seniors the opportunity to celebrate the end of school without alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

Organizers say they wanted 40 volunteer Wake County deputies to provide security.

"(The Wake County Sheriff's Office wasn't) able to get but nine this year, so it wasn't even close to what we needed," said PTA Council president Cindy Smith. "And so with less than two weeks away, we were really left with no choice but to cancel it because of safety and liability issues."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said his deputies didn't get the word early enough to recruit the number needed. The department had 22 volunteers and were working on more when they got the cancellation notice, Harrison said.

"We didn't have 40 last year," Harrison said. "This is beginning to be a big operation and our deputies are just stretched thin as far as volunteering. We've got the Special Olympics the same weekend. Also, we have the Cops on Top of the Building program."

Smith said she doesn't blame the sheriff's department for the cancellation. She also said many parents are upset that an alcohol-free event for their children is gone.

"With high school kids (of her own), I worry about them," Smith said. "One of them just got his driver's license. The other one just got his permit. So it's a little scary."

Earlier this year, Wakefield High student Sadiki Young died in a crash on Wakefield Pines Drive. Last March, four Wakefield students died when their car plunged off the U.S. Highway 64 bypass. Speed and alcohol contributed to the deaths.

The PTA Council and the sheriff's department both said they want to re-group, plan better, and get Project Graduation back on track next year.