Project Graduation emerged in the Oxford Hills area (Paris/Norway) of Maine, in 1980, the result of community energies empowered through a state initiative. It has long since been recognized as a prototype for the nation, helping to protect the lives of graduating seniors in all states.
Beginning in 1978, an Alcohol, Other Drugs and Highway Safety Prevention/Intervention Program was initiated by the Division of Alcohol and Drug Education Services, within Maine 's Department of Education, designed in cooperation with the Bureau of Safety. The thrust of program was to help schools and communities locally address problems associated with alcohol and other drugs.
Oxford Hills and five other communities sent teams of school and community leaders through intensive training sponsored by the division. After an 11-day, live-in program of initial training and then follow-up instruction, these teams were prepared to implement an action plan to develop comprehensive alcohol and other drug prevention and education programs in their home communities.
One of these teams, the Drug and Alcohol Team of Oxford Hills (DATOH), aimed to prevent recurring tragedies as Oxford Hills had experienced the previous year (1979), when seven alcohol and other drug related teen deaths occurred during the commencement season.
Led by DATOH, area schools and communities provided the Class of 1980 at Oxford Hills High School with information about the risks of drinking, drugging and driving. The seniors were offered an alternative to the "traditional" graduation-night drinking event that drew hundreds of people to the local fair grounds. They called this chemical-free party "Project Graduation." The entire process, a huge success, was covered by the news media and was adopted as a major program initiative of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Education Services.
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