Taking the time to gather our loved ones and show them some gratitude can get lost in the shuffle when things get hectic, but more than fifty Ball High School seniors are making it a priority. Even with all the activities scheduled for their last month of high school, they are participating in Project Graduation’s Senior Serve Dinner, a special fundraiser for the 2017 Project Graduation celebration.

“This is a really meaningful way for graduating seniors to show appreciation to the people who are important to them,” Project Graduation co-chair Michele Hay said. “Each senior seats their friends and family at a table, and then serves them their dinner.”

Each participating senior decorates their table for the May 6 occasion to reflect their hobbies, school activities or future plans, transforming the Ball High cafeteria into a collection of colorful tablescapes.

While the seniors are busy decorating, serving and entertaining, the meal itself comes courtesy of Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant, one of the restaurants in Project Graduation co-chair Johnny Smecca’s Galveston Restaurant Group. “Mario’s chef Richie DePlacencia created the menu for Senior Serve, which includes Chicken Francese, pasta and green beans, Hay said. “The chicken is a pan-fried chicken breast in a light lemon sauce.”

Participating seniors bring the dessert for their table, and Hay is advising them to keep it simple. “They have so much else going on right now, so we don’t expect them to do anything elaborate. Cupcakes or cookies are really the way to go,” she noted.

Proceeds from Senior Serve will enable more graduating seniors to participate in Project Graduation, the all-night, alcohol and drug free celebration that begins shortly after the graduation ceremony. Ball High was a pioneer in developing Project Graduation in 1987, and the tradition has spread to high schools across the country. At the Project Gradation party, the new graduates celebrate their momentous milestone with hours of food, dancing, games and prize drawings designed to keep them at the party, and safe from more dangerous pursuits, all night. More than 100 volunteers and scores of local businesses pitch in to make Project Graduation a success each year.

The Senior Serve Dinner is a much newer tradition. “Our first was in 2015,” Hay said. “We had heard of other schools doing it as their main fundraiser for Project Graduation, and it seemed like a great tradition to start. This year, under the leadership of Senior Serve chairman Jill Termini, it’s grown and gained even more community support for the event and a silent auction.”

This year, the dinner features a special guest. Ball High School graduate Mike Evans, a member of the class of 2011 and first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will attend, and also autograph several items of football memorabilia that will be part of the silent auction.

While the Senior Serve Dinner focuses on friends and family of the graduating seniors, Hay noted that other aspects of Project Graduation welcome public support. For more information on helping Project Graduation, contact co-chairs Michele Hay or Johnny Smecca at ballhighprojectgraduation@gmail.com.

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