Mother with adult children plans party for graduates

June 04, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The youngest of her six children graduated last year, but Angie Diehlmann again is planning Carroll County's biggest high school graduation party.

Project Graduation, in its third year, is an all-night party where seniors have the run of the Four Seasons Sports Complex in Hampstead, plus free food, entertainment and prizes.

When Ms. Diehlmann started the tradition three years ago, a different party was held each night of the weekend -- for the seniors that graduated each day. This year, there will be one party, from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday.

"We're in competition with Ocean City," Ms. Diehlmann said. "As soon as the students receive their diplomas, they want to go to Ocean City."

Students who graduate Saturday and Sunday often want to leave for the resort city immediately because they have to rent their rooms at the beach for the week starting Saturday.

Westminster High School seniors graduate Friday, and the remaining four high schools have graduation Saturday and Sunday. Ms. Diehlmann said students may enter the party as late as 12:30 a.m., which will give Westminster High students a chance to celebrate with their families after the ceremony.

In the past, the graduation parties have drawn a total of about 300 people annually. Ms. Diehlmann hopes for a larger crowd this year, such as a minimum of 300 of the 1,500 graduating seniors, plus friends or dates they bring.

"I told them this year it had to be 20 percent or I wouldn't do it again," said the Westminster woman. "It's a lot of work. I'm on the phone all the time, running here, running there."

A committee of parents, many of whom no longer have children in school, has been obtaining donations of food and prizes, printing fliers and going to the high schools at lunchtime to promote the party.

Helping Ms. Diehlmann are Don Smith, youth coordinator for the county Department of Recreation and Parks, and parents Vickie and James Curtis, Viki and Gary Peletier, Bonnie and Joe Beurer, Jo Anne Santella and Fred Graham.

So far, 150 students have preregistered, but Ms. Diehlmann said she is certain that more will come to the party.

"You usually can't get students to preregister for anything," she said. "They don't want to commit. They might find something better to do."

Before Ms. Diehlmann moved to Westminster a few years ago, she was the driving force behind similar graduation parties in Charles County. She and other parents initiated the parties as a safe way for graduates to celebrate. The event was prompted by a drunken driving accident that injured some local teens.

"Since then, nine years, we've not had an arrest or any kind of accident on graduation night" in Charles County, she said.

Students coming to the Carroll party will know in advance that a guard will search their bags for drugs and alcohol. Once they are inside, the seniors may stay all night or leave. But if they leave, they must sign out and can't return.

"This is not a lock-in," Ms. Diehlmann said. "You can't lock in 18-year-olds."

She said about one-fourth of the students stayed all night at past parties. They sat on the padded aerobics floor and watched movies.

Ms. Diehlmann said Blockbuster Video will donate six movies, which she will give away as door prizes after they're viewed.

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