Graduation planned for July after senior year cut short

Superintendent announces graduation plans in video

USD 497

By Tony Racy, Opinion Editor

Sophia Kaufman

Lawrence High seniors will graduate in July, according to plans announced by Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis on Monday.

Seniors will also have “No-Contact Special Activities”  on May 20 — the original graduation day — on campus. This will be an opportunity for school families to come together to celebrate the students’ accomplishments while maintaining appropriate safety precautions.

Graduation is set to take place at 10:30 a.m. on July 18 in the school’s stadium. This follows directly after Free State’s graduation, which is set to take place at 8 a.m. the same morning.

“There is a special place in my heart for the senior class,” Lewis said in his YouTube announcement.

Safety guidelines will be in place. These include limiting the number of guests a graduate may bring to ensure physical distance and having “Drive-thru graduation parades” if the weather is not satisfactory.

 This announcement comes as schools across Kansas have been shut down for almost two months. USD 497 adapted to this change by shifting the classroom into online meetings held on students’ computers.

“We are fortunate that Lawrence Public Schools already had foundational work in place to support these changes as we navigate in uncharted territory,” Lewis said.

In-person graduation plans are still subject to change as the global pandemic continues.

Symon Knox
Walking into the stadium, members of the class of 2018 attend their graduation. Two years later, members of the class of 2020 may finally get to take that same walk — or something similar — during a graduation ceremony planned for July. Graduation was delayed due to COVID-19.

“Hosting our graduation will require us to move through the governor’s phases on reopening Kansas,” Lews said.

Some soon-to-be graduates remain skeptical if graduation will be able to be held on July 18.

“I’m worried that it won’t happen, but I’m staying hopeful,” senior Alice Hull said.

Despite her skepticism, she’s excited to be able to participate in a graduation that didn’t seem possible weeks ago.

“I’m also very excited to see people other than my family,” Hull said. “I just think it’s too soon to know.”

While other seniors may be disappointed that graduation isn’t happening unrestricted at the original date, some find some light in the new date.

“I get to be 18 for graduation now though so that’s cool,” senior Avery Harrington said.

If students and families want these new graduation plans to happen, it’s important to continue to follow current safety guidelines now to reduce the pandemic’s impact two months later, Lewis said.

“Continue to stay home if you are sick or a member of a high-risk group,” Lewis said.