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Project Graduation keeps teenagers safe

July 14, 2011
BY WALTER CHIHARA
Over the past few years, the number of tragic and deadly automobile accidents involving teenagers around graduation time has gone steadily downward.

Sgt. Barry Aoki of Maui Police Department’s Traffic Division reported that there have been fewer and fewer teenage traffic fatalities in the last three years.

“There were no teenage traffic fatalities this year around graduation time, and current enforcement efforts and other community efforts certainly contribute to this,” stated Sgt. Aoki last week.

Foremost in the community efforts stands Project Graduation, a safe, sane, alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free party for high school graduates that keeps the celebrating teenagers completely off the roads from the time immediately after their commencement exercises are completed to the moment they are into the arms of their beaming parents and guardians the following morning.

For the Lahainaluna High School faithful, the Project Graduation effort began in 1995 founded by Lorene Akiona and Mike Casicas. Since then, this most positive endeavor to promote the safety and welfare of our youngsters has caught fire all across the Valley Isle to Baldwin, Maui High School and King Kekaulike.

This year, upwards of 80 percent of the Lahainaluna graduating class attended the all-night celebration to enjoy a fun-filled night to remember that offered food, games, entertainment and door prizes.

The organizers of this year’s Project Graduation included Debbie Propst, Becky Fuller, Steve Fuller, Jeff Rogers and the Lahainaluna PTSA led by Kim Scott.

Many local businesses contributed, and have lent continuing support over the years, to this year’s event as well. Kaanapali Resort hotels, Lahaina Town restaurants, Maui Realtors, and Title Guaranty Escrow Services Inc. are among the many concerned supporters of Lahainaluna’s Project Graduation, and all should be commended for their contributions.

Thank you to all for creating this safety net for our village children. Malama pono — to nurture in a motherly way all that is good and righteous.

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