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Bellingham High School’s “Operation Graduation” Turns 30

By Jennifer Russo
30 years ago, a long-time tradition for the Bellingham High School seniors began. Operation Graduation is a parent-led program which began back in 1993, with the purpose of offering the senior class one last great night together to have fun and create positive memories of their final high school year. The program aims to provide a fun and safe environment for the students on graduation night. 
At the time when this program started, there was a lot of concern about kids drinking and driving and many campaigns from MADD/SADD. Parents thought an all-night party at the school and hosted by parents would be a great way to keep everyone safe. It still holds true to its mission – an all-night, drug-free, and alcohol-free party, organized and thrown by their parents and always entirely free for graduating seniors.
“My husband was in the first senior class that participated in Op. Grad, and my class was the second - the theme for mine was Cruising Through the Night and the parents helped to build props like coconut trees and a ship. We had casino games, a movie theater, and a disco bar, all set up around the school. I had such an amazing fun night with my friends! We partied from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next day,” says committee member Caitlyn McCann.   
Other past themes have included “School of Rock,” “The Wild West,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Through the Years.” Parents spend months pulling together the year’s theme and every activity down to the last detail. As you might have guessed, a program like this requires donations from Bellingham residents and businesses, fundraising events, and other help to make it a night to remember. It really relies on community support to make everything possible.  
The committee is made up of five parents, and they have another dozen or so parent volunteers. They are actively recruiting more parents to help plan and participate in related events until they meet their goal of $25,000. On November 7th, at 6 p.m., they will host a Powder Puff game at the BHS turf field for the high school students, open to grades 9-12 for a cost of $10 to play, $5 to attend, and concessions will be available for purchase. On December 3rd, they will have a holiday craft and vendor fair at Bellingham High School, from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Tables are $50, and those interested can get more information by emailing [email protected]. More plans for after the holidays are being worked on, but they are sure to all be a great time and raise money for this outstanding event.
This year’s senior class has 124 students, and the theme and plans for the year are kept TOP SECRET.
“It’s so special for us that it has come full-circle from our parents helping out, to us now helping out for our daughter,” McCann shares. “I cannot emphasize enough that we need more parents to become involved.”
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