0

Park to host metro-wide graduation party

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Reach Them 2 Teach Them Foundation, and the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, are teaming up to offer what is being billed as the biggest graduation celebration in metro Atlanta.

On Memorial Day, from 10 a.m., to 8 p.m., Celebrate Our Seniors 2008 will take place inside Clayton County International Park. High school seniors, teachers, and families from all over the metro area, are invited to a day of fun, prizes, music, and guest appearances by celebrities and local elected officials.

Reach Them 2 Teach Them Executive Director Albert Irvin said the purpose of the event is to highlight the positive things students are doing, in a safe, fun environment.

"If we don't create these kind of environments, [students] go to house parties or they drink and drive," said Irvin. "If we create these kind of environments, it's a win-win for everybody."

Several events will take place on The Beach's main stage, including "My Graduation Wish For You," a time in which family members can share words of congratulations with their graduating senior; the "Teacher Parade," in which teachers and school administrators will be recognized for their accomplishments, and "Generation Next," in which local celebrities, business owners, and community leaders will share their graduation stories and encourage students who are entering the next phase of their lives.

The day's activities will also include "Summer On!," in which community and government organizations will distribute information about summer programs to help keep the minds and bodies of graduating seniors sharp.

"Even though you've graduated, your task isn't over," said Irvin. Summer On! "is basically our opportunity to encourage seniors to take a summer on instead of a summer off. If we can get one kid to do that, then we have done something positive."

Throughout the day, there will be several contests, including tug of war, sand-castle building, hula-hooping, mini-golf tournaments, flag football, volleyball, and sand bowling, in which empty two-liter bottles of soda are filled with sand and used as pins.

Lindsey DeLong, Parks and Recreation Department marketing and sales specialist, said the event is meant to "encourage the good things that come with the completion of high school.

"We wanted to team up with the Reach Them 2 Teach Them Foundation and really promote that graduation and the completion of high school is really important," said DeLong. "We're just here to show our support for the accomplishments they have made."

She said the department is encouraging parents, graduates, and teachers to come and show their support. "We can always report the numbers of things that aren't happening, but many times we don't take the time to acknowledge the people who are doing something," said Irvin. "Because of the negative press Clayton County has received, it's even more important that we acknowledge the accomplishments of seniors."

The event is $10 per person for the day. For more information, visit www.thebeachccip.com, or www.myspace.com/senior08celebration.