Members of the Lawrence High School Class of 1997 capped off a commencement celebration with a party thrown by their parents.
It was Sally Russell's night.
Not only was the 1997 Lawrence High School graduate named Outstanding Senior during commencement ceremonies Sunday night, but she also was the winner of a $500 college scholarship given away by the Lawrence Journal-World during an after-graduation party.
Russell's name was pulled from a hopper by LHS teacher Art Sloan at midnight, about one hour into an all-night party thrown at The Granada for LHS graduates by their parents.
"This day could not get much better," said Russell, 18, the daughter of Bob and Ann Russell.
She plans to attend the University of Virginia, where she'd like to study education and English.
"I'd like to teach for a while because my teachers have been so inspirational, and it's a way to give something back," said Russell, one of 16 co-valedictorians in the Class of '97 at LHS.
Russell, who was senior class vice president, played basketball and ran cross country She also participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society and chorale.
Members of her class voted her Outstanding Senior, an award that was presented at commencement. She said she was honored by that, and exceptionally pleased by receiving the Journal-World scholarship.
"It's a wonderful scholarship," she said.
Numerous other prizes were given away during the party that was attended by more than 400 grads. Among the prizes:
- Four $250 educational scholarships, provided by seniors' parents, which were won by Lisa Katich, Amber Heiserman, Christa Haught and Kari Wiseman.
- A futon, donated by Blue Heron, which was won by Jaime Sauer.
- A $500 educational scholarship, donated by DCCCA, which was won by Todd Mihalchik.
- A $500 gift certificate to Sunflower Surplus, donated by the seniors' parents, won by Vicki Collie.
- A total of $1,500 toward purchase of computer equipment, donated by the seniors' parents, which was won by Brett Flory.
- A 1985 burgundy Chrysler Lebaron convertible, donated by Jim Clark Motors, which was won by Aaron Urban.
And grads had plenty of action to keep them busy. blackjack, pool, dancing and basketball were among numerous possibilities. And loads of food and sodas were available throughout the night.
In addition to providing the $500 scholarship, the Journal-World also underwrote the cost of rental of The Granada for the party. Many other local businesses donated money or prizes for the party. Parents of the graduates donated funds as well.
"The community and your parents have really gotten behind this thing," Bill Mondi, one of two masters of ceremonies told the party-goers.
Parents worked for months to organize the party, which provided a safe environment for members of the Class of 1997 to celebrate their accomplishments.