Seniors remember struggles and hard work after graduation ceremony

Gratitude and bittersweet emotions arise as Class of 2022 graduates after the COVID-19 pandemic, online school.


Maison Flory

Addressing the crowd, Jake Shew stresses the importance of adaption through hardship. “You not only survived a historical catastrophe that changed the world as we know it, but you adapted to it and thrived in that world,” they said.

By Jack Ritter and Maya Smith

Despite a two-day weather delay and potential storms later that night, Lawrence High seniors graduated atop the football field on. Friday, May 27.

This year’s ceremony was filled with feelings of gratitude, new beginnings and bittersweet feelings about leaving LHS, and many students felt an impression left on them by the commencement.  

The ceremony began with speeches by superintendent Anthony Lewis, principal Jessica Bassett and school board president Erica Hill, and student speakers Jake Shew and Gianna Cooper followed, who both auditioned before and were selected by a panel of faculty members. 

Shew’s speech highlighted the importance of adaptation and strength through hardship. 

“Getting to address the class for the first time made me feel like I needed to be as vulnerable and real as possible,” Shew said. “I think me and Gianna complimented each other very well in the content of our speech. I saw my classmates full of pure and raw emotion, and because I knew to some extent what it took for each one of them to get there, it was a really special feeling.”

Cooper’s speech compared high school to a novel and referred to the four years of high school as chapters. 

“It was truly a really cool experience that I was nervous but also excited about,” Cooper said. “Hearing how proud the staff was of us really meant a lot. I know myself and others have struggled the past few years with COVID-19 and all the changes we experienced as a class.”

Members of Chorale were among the first students to receive their diplomas, as they were seated at the front of the field to sing the national anthem and the alma mater to kick off the ceremony. One of those singers was Lindsey Rutledge.

“It felt really crazy to be the first people to graduate. I thought the process would take longer,” Rutledge said. “It was very rewarding to be in the first group. It’s really surreal, it hasn’t hit me yet that it is all over.”

While the evening was filled with emotion, many seniors are looking forward to their futures after graduation.

“I’m kind of just excited I have my whole life ahead of me now,” Gretchen Bannworth said. “I don’t have to be here like eight hours a day five days a week.”

Other students reflect on the bittersweet feelings of leaving LHS forever. 

“We have all worked so hard and dedicated ourselves to bettering this school,” Student Body Co-President Sam Lopez said. “I feel kind of complete now, knowing that my time at LHS is finally over, and I get to start the process over at a new school.”