PENINSULA - Everything costs money. And if you're planning a party for around 65 high school seniors, it can cost upwards of $18,000, according to 2006 graduation party organizer Mary Goelz.

For at least the last 20 years there has been some kind of "safe and sober" graduation party for the seniors of Ilwaco High School. Most of the time it is a one-night party or short trip in which the seniors are whisked away following the graduation ceremony and returned the next morning, having celebrated their accomplishment, but in a safe fashion.

Goelz said in recent years the party has cost between $15,000-$18,000, and so that is what they are shooting for this year. Along with the activities, the money also goes toward prizes received by the seniors - in past years prizes have included microwaves and dish sets, for example.

The party's details are always a surprise, though Goelz said most seniors have figured out one way or another where it is they're going by the time they're on the bus. This spring, Class of 2005 seniors were escorted to Portland.

Goelz said the group raising funds for next year's party, mostly made up of parents with graduating seniors, has already begun fundraising. Every year the group produces a community calendar that features birthdays and anniversaries. They also hold raffles, sell roses around Mother's Day and offer various things for sale at sporting events, such as seat cushions and pom-poms. They also send out letters to businesses soliciting donations.

John Hayes, who owns J&D Custom Artworks in Seaview, is donating 10 percent of his profits beginning in August toward the party this year - his son is set to graduate that year.

"It's amazing how it adds up. We do a lot of little stuff and somehow it works," said Goelz. "It's amazing the amount of money, but it does come together."

Goelz said the group has already decided where the trip will be, but declined to give any details - wouldn't want to give away the surprise, you know.

And though they can't be too specific about what it is they will be doing with the money donated, Goelz said if people want to be more involved in the process, they are welcome to attend one of their meetings.

"We'd love for every parent of the graduating class to come. Most people know the history of these parties," she said. Goelz added that in the history of the graduation parties there haven't been any incidents of drunken driving or graduates getting in trouble that night.

"We want to have one nice evening for them to celebrate with their classmates," she said.

For more information about donating funds or becoming a part of the group, call Goelz at 642-4504.

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