Plans for the township's drug- and alcohol-free commencement parties for Parsippany's graduating seniors are underway, and were buttressed by the school board's Thursday night decision to allocate $5,000 toward the effort.
Organizers from Project Graduation presented reports at last week's Board of Education meeting, where they offered good and bad news.
"2012 was another successful year for both sides of town," said Sandy Nussbaum Giercyk, president of the Parsippany Hills High School Parent - Teacher - Student Association.
Parsippany High School was represented by its Project Graduation coordinator, Ellen Jones.
Organizers at the Hills and the High plan Project Graduation events together, but hold separate, but similar, all-night parties for each high school, Giercyk said, featuring wholesome activities including hot tubs, Dance Dance Revolution, basketball, raquetball, board games, refreshments and more.
"We know we're achieving our goal when we receive [student] comments such as, 'If not for this, I'd probably go out drinking tonight,' and "This was a final great event with my classmates; thank you,'" she said.
Despire the successes, Giercyk noted that attendance was down slightly at the 2012 events and that fundraising efforts were similarly troubled.
"We experienced an increase in financial need," Giercyk said. "Ninety-five percent of our students paid the requested donation [of $75]; many were not able to [do so]."
Giercyk noted that no student is barred from attending because of financial need.
"The cost on average for both sides of town is $165 per student," she explained. "We ask for $75, but the cost is $165."
The difference is made up through individual and corporate donations, sponsorships and fundraising efforts.
This year's first major fundraiser, which involved pink flamingos appearing across Parsippany, encountered difficulty in the form of Superstorm Sandy, which cut the effort short, she said.
"You'll see the flamingos start again in March."
For 2013, planning is in progress for the events, which will take place on graduation night on June 20.
Giercyk said Project Graduation counts on the community for financial support.
"We understand the economy has changed over the past few years," she said, "but donations are down almost 80 percent. With that in mind, I ask the board to consider allocating the $5,000 donation to be shared by the two schools and gifted in the past for last-minute needs in the budget."
In a quick polling, the board voted unanimously to allocated the requested funds.