Graduation Celebration changes set with FHS

A small but dedicated group is working to make 2018 Farragut High School PTSO Graduation Celebration a night to remember for all the right reasons.

“In past years, the seniors have had to pay $25 to $50 for a ticket to attend in order to cover the location rental. This year, our goal is to cover the entire cost with donations and fundraisers,” said Jade Benson, among a group of FHS seniors/student ambassadors also including Marissa Van Leuven and Jackson Poindexter.

All 2018 graduates attending, in addition to those who couldn’t afford to pay, will get free tickets if the group raises enough funding before the event.

“Although a wealthy area, not all students come from wealthy families and can afford to purchase a ticket to attend. Some have expressed to me dismay that they won’t be able to attend due to the cost,” said Heather Benson, FHS PTSO 2018 Graduation Celebration chairman.

“There are already many extra costs their senior year — cap amd gowns, graduation announcements, college application fees, etc.,” she added. “I want all the seniors to be able to attend.”

Specifically designed to keep students from attending parties where drugs and alcohol may be present, the Celebration is a lock-in following graduation ceremonies, which will be held from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. May 19-20, at Main Event.

The multi-activity site, which opened in West Knoxville earlier this year, offers laser tag, bowling lanes, a full arcade, billiards, a ropes course with zipline and music with a space for dancing.

Main Event also provides dinner and breakfast, Heather Benson said.

The event chair said it is her hope to raise $30,000 — enough to cover cost of the venue and related activities.

For more information, including fundraisers, contact Heather Benson by e-mail at or call 865-963-5888.

“The kids have a fantastic time and they all look forward to it every year,” Benson said of the Graduation Celebration itself. “It is their last chance to have fun with their friends before scattering for summer vacations and then college or jobs in the fall.”

Benson and the student ambassadors have been hard at work on creative fundraising, especially since organizations are limited to one fund-raiser per semester, Benson said.

“I couldn’t ask for better help,” Benson said of the group, which includes her daughter, Jade. “They are pitching in as much as they can in spite of their extremely busy schedules.”

Currently, there is a live Christmas Wreath fundraiser, which runs through Nov. 20. Two- and three-foot wreaths, and a 15-foot swag are all available, with 50 percent of all proceeds going toward to the Graduation Celebration. Costs range from $15 to $40, and may be purchased through a member of the senior class.

Benson said if any interested parties don’t know a senior, they may contact her to make purchases.

The wreaths will be delivered the week after Thanksgiving.

“If not interested in a live wreath, we are also asking for monetary donations and items that can be given away as door prizes to the students,” Benson said. “I want to make the event as attractive to the seniors as possible so they will all attend.

The FHS PTSO uses donations to buy door prizes and has something for every student to take home, Benson said.

“It can be anything from a flat screen TV to a Keurig for their future dorm room to an iPad to a gift card.”

She is very committed to the cause.

“This senior class is a great group of kids,” she continued. “They work very hard and are quite brilliant and creative. They deserve a fun and safe send-off into the world of adulting. I hope they will inspire the classes that follow to want to do the same.”

Benson said all donations can be made out to “FHS PTSO Graduation Celebration,” which, as a 501(c)(3) organization, makes all contributions tax deductible.