Planning begins for Project Graduation for seniors

For the Class of 2021, Project Graduation will be held the day of the graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 23 from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Parents and guardians may arrive earlier based on what committee they are helping with.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the senior class had a meeting in the gym, in which class sponsor Jarrett Pfannenstiel handed out forms for students to sign and return to the office. The first 100 students to hand in this Peace Agreement form will receive a $10 gift card for Amazon.

Pfannenstiel has held Project Graduation for 14 years now.

“I have been the only teacher in charge the past 13 years,” Pfannenstiel said. “Although I am the only paid teacher to do this, Mr. [Dustin] Dreher has helped me every year. He helps me set a few things up the day before, runs the craps table the night of project graduation and helps me give away the prizes. If I was Wayne Brady; he’s the Jonathan to assist me.”

COVID-19 forced the event to be moved from Fort Hays State University to Hays High School this year. Prior to this year, Project Graduation has been at Fort Hays since the 1980s, except for last year.

“2020 was the most memorable so far because we didn’t even know if we were able to have it,” Pfannenstiel said. “It ended up being in July, and we had it outside. I had to set the whole event up that day because the graduation ceremony was in the exact same location. To put it lightly, I was exhausted when it was over. It was fun, though — the most fun I’ve had ever. 2016 is probably my second favorite year because both 2020 and 2016 had the most energetic students when we started giving away prizes. I still laugh about some of the things that happened in those years.”

Every year, Project Graduation is known for its prize giveaways. The seniors this year will be playing games until 11:30 p.m. At that time, if students want to win specific prizes, they will put tickets with their names on them in the buckets to win. Prizes range from $500 scholarships to a school of their choice, mini-fridges, tool chests, laptops, televisions, camping gear, bicycles, Trager grills, luggage and numerous gift cards to any businesses across Hays.

According to Pfannenstiel, the best part of the night is when he gets to play game show host.

“I truly missed my calling,” Pfannenstiel said. “There’s nothing better than giving away prizes and seeing the joy on people’s faces.