Project Grad fundraising effort under way

LIHU‘E — McDonald’s Night at the McDonald’s restaurant in Lihu‘e is one of the many ways the community is helping students raise funds for Project Grad.

Hosted by Kapa‘a, Waimea and Kaua‘i high school schools, Project Grad provides a safe and secure environment for graduating seniors to celebrate their commencement. Immediately following graduation ceremonies, Project Grad kicks off with a night of wholesome activities, food and entertainment.

“We have been successful in attaining more than 95 percent participation of our graduates in Project Graduation,” Darnell Aquino, chairwoman for Kaua‘i High School’s Project Grad, said in a letter. “This year, Kaua‘i High School will host its event on May 18 with more than 270 students anticipated to participate.”

Although each graduating senior must pay a fee to attend the smoke-free, drug-free and alcohol-free event, Aquino said it doesn’t cover the entire cost of the program, which has been in place for 21 years. It’s through the generosity of the community that Project Grad is allowed to continue year after year.

Wednesday night, Aquino had Red Raider students and parent volunteers manning the counters at McDonald’s alongside restaurant staff in an effort to raise funds for the school’s program.

“We only started doing our fundraising, so we’ve got a ways to go,” she said of the all-volunteer group’s $35,000 goal.

Their efforts got a boost from the Kaua‘i Association of Family and Community Education on Saturday, when Jo Shimamoto and Lenore Klass presented $500 to each of high schools.

Furthering the effort, community members are invited to “rock it out with Rockstar Zumba Fitness” tomorrow from 5 to 8 p.m. at Kaua‘i High School, Aquino said.

The Zumba fitness session will be led by Zumba enthusiasts Troy Lazaro and Anna Velasco.

For more information or to contribute to Kaua‘i High School Project Grad, call Darnell Aquino at 651-9549 or Lilane Corpuz at 635-6783.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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