NORWAY — Senior graduation is the culminating moment where kids turn the page on their school careers and step into the future, be it the workforce, further education, military or public service or other goals.

If earning that high school diploma symbolizes the milestone of reaching adulthood, Project Graduation has become the final act for a senior class to celebrate in a safe, innovative and collaborative night with their peers.

Oxford Hills is counting down the days until graduation for its class of 2023. WOXO 92.7 and 100.7 gets in on the action April 13, when it hosts Project Graduation organizers and sponsors during a 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. radio-thon to help raise money for Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s all-night party following  senior commencement.

Karaoke is one the most popular activities during Oxford Hills Project Graduation party. Supplied photo

Graduation ceremonies will be held June 10 and Project Graduation will immediately follow.

Launched in 1980 as a response to several alcohol and substance-related tragedies that took the lives of seven local teens during the 1979 spring commencement season, Project Graduation has developed into an American tradition.

According to the state Division of Disease Prevention, “it has long since been recognized as a prototype for the nation, helping to protect the lives of graduating seniors in all states.”


Oxford Hills has continued to support and promote Project Graduation ever since and in the wake of the pandemic it has come back even stronger. To pull it off, volunteers must put in countless hours over a period of months, with businesses and individuals alike donating funds, services and goods.

Brenda Moore has been a driving force of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s Project Graduation for the past nine year. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Brenda Moore, who has been the driving force behind Project Graduation for most of the nine years she has volunteered on its planning committee, sat down with the Advertiser Democrat to talk about what goes into organizing it and its importance to the community.

“You don’t realize until you experience it, just how big, how fun it is,” she said. “Every year, students tell us how grateful they are to be able to have it. And it takes a village to do it.”

With the exception of the COVID years, planning for Project Graduation starts in the fall along with every school year. Moore joined the committee nine years ago, when then-Principal Ted Moccia issued a call for volunteers through a robo-call promotion.

She has been at it ever since, currently serving as ad hoc group president, secretary and treasurer. She especially credits OHCHS Health Educator Jeni Jordan for reinfusing Project Graduation with new energy that has enabled innovation and better organization.

“In 2020, with everything closed down, Project Graduation could only be part of the school’s drive-in graduation in Bridgton,” Moore said. “We didn’t have project graduation, but that night was such an awesome experience the way everyone was able to come together.”


Moore’s role that year was limited to filling gift bags for graduating seniors and doling them out as part of the procession ahead of the commencement ceremony. In 2021 Project Graduation was still limited due to pandemic public health mandates, but Moore represented the group at the annual senior picnic, which was held outside, again distributing gift bags made possible by donations from local businesses and individuals.

In 2022, COVID restrictions were lifted in April. With just two months to organize, Moore, Jordan and OHCHS math coach Torrey Poland joined forces with the community and managed to once again bring Project Graduation back as an in-person graduation party that started with a Rotary supplied cook-out, eight hours of entertainment and activities, and a sunrise breakfast.

WOXO started the Project Graduation Radio-thon in 2021 to help raise funds for Oxford Hills High School’s Project Graduation.

“Due to the pandemic students weren’t allowed to fundraise throughout the year, and they were in danger of not having Project Graduation,” said Bennett Radio Group owner Stan Bennett. “We were approached by the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce to see if there was anything we could do to help. The solution was to use our platform at WOXO and we raised a little over $14,000.

“Due to the first year’s success, we decided to make it an annual event. The Oxford Hills Project Graduation committee works tirelessly to give the students a fun and safe party each year. WOXO is here to help raise funds to make it happen.”

“Planning is going really well this year, we have broken into committees to break up the workload, it’s been really successful,” Jordan told the Advertiser Democrat in an email statement. “We have an Amazon link that we have sent out to the community to assist with donating prizes that we give out at breakfast! It’s been nice to have the whole year to plan, we’ve been able to bring back the full project grad experience for our kids, I’m really excited about that. These kids deserve it, high school for them was pretty crazy and chaotic at times.”


This year the committee has been able to work a consistent pace on planning that began last fall. Moore is pleased that a wave of new volunteers are participating this year, making it possible to delegate responsibilities among several subcommittees – entertainment, food/beverage, fundraising, chaperones and gifts/prizes – that has streamlined the work and eased the process.

With Poland transferring from OHCHS to a new role as Oxford Hills Middle School’s assistant principal, Jordan’s class of 2023 co advisor Jayne Bristol has joined the school’s volunteer team.

“Our chaperone committee needs to have 90 volunteers,” Moore said. “Some parents or school staff may spend the whole night. Others will take a spot at different event stations, or be on hand at the exits to make sure they stay locked.”

Volunteer Lisa McCann of West Paris is one of Project Graduation’s first-year volunteers who is working on the food and beverage subcommittee. Her son Stephen is in his freshman year at OHCHS.

“I have found that the businesses of the Oxford Hills are very generous and excited to help with whatever we need,” McCann said. “As soon as I tell … the business what I’m there for, there has been no hesitation for them to say ‘Yes. I’d love to help. Tell me what you need.’ I have walked away from each business feeling really good about how helpful everyone wants to be.”

According to Project Graduation Committee President Brenda Moore, the team of volunteers who sets up all the activities and events as senior graduation happens are critical to its success. Here, volunteers prepare a parachute in the gym ahead of OHCHS’ 2022 Project Graduation. Supplied photo

This is the third year that WOXO has pitched in to raise awareness and funds for Project Graduation. In 2022 the radio station helped pull in more than $30,000 in donations. This year owners Stan and Alison Bennett continue their support, soliciting business support, announcing sponsorships through their Facebook page ( inviting donors in to participate in the radio-thon on April 13.


Moore said students, parents, alumni and sponsor spokespeople will go on air to talk about Project Graduation. Norway, Paris and Oxford police chiefs will drop by as special guests midday.

Anyone wishing to donate during the radio-thon should call WOXO at (207) 743-5911 to use Venmo or charge card, or drop by the station with cash or check.

This year people can support Project Graduation by “adopting a senior” with a donation of $20.23 each. There is no limit on how many donations can be made. Larger amounts can be provided for Project Graduation’s “Cash for the Class” project, in the amount of $202.30.

In addition to sponsorships people can order senior gifts through the group’s Amazon wish list for dorm and bathroom items and school supplies. Links to the Amazon list are posted on Oxford Hills Project Graduation’s Facebook page, ( along with event updates and sponsor and supporter announcements.

“Fifteen businesses have [pledged] so far, and two of them are owned and run by two or our very own seniors,” Jordan wrote. “We look forward to the radio-thon. It has been very successful the past two years. And we love Oxford Hills and the support they always give our students.”

Comments are not available on this story.