The Class of 2002 at Lawrence and Free State high schools finally got its hands Sunday on the cure for senioritis Â a diploma.
The fancy document is suitable for framing, but it could have simply said "Sweet Freedom" in block letters for what it meant to 394 LHS seniors and 328 Free State seniors participating in commencement.
LHS graduation speaker Jeff Cravens prodded classmates to take advantage of this new-found independence by tweaking lines of a Lee Ann Womack song.
"If you get a choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance," he said.
Thousands of family and friends sat under sunny skies at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium for the back-to-back ceremonies.
It was the 128th annual commencement for Lawrence High and the fifth for Free State.
Families and friends cheered loudly when a senior's name was read for the traditional walk across the stage. Hundreds of parents crowded onto the football field to take pictures.
Supt. Randy Weseman urged graduates to work hard for their communities as they go about building careers and families.
He advised Free State seniors not to follow in the footsteps of Homer Simpson. Weseman recalled the cartoon icon's response to an edict from his boss to show up at work Friday or don't think about coming in Monday.
"Woo-hoo!" Simpson proclaimed. "A four-day weekend!"
Seriously, the superintendent said, "I hope you show up for your future."
Graduates he addressed ranged from Adair to Zobrist. There was greatness in their ranks with a Champion, King and Victor. It had a presidential flavor: Jefferson, Jackson, Grant, Hoover, Kennedy.
Followed by a splash of color: Brown and Green, White and Black, Hazel and Redding. And a varied occupational list: Baker, Potter, Brewer, Butler, Cook, Hunter.
Commencement speakers, two at each high school, offered observations:
Â Jennifer Donnally of LHS: "Dreams are the essence of life."
Â Free State's Nick Stock: "There is nothing that can hold us back."
Â Dylan Hilpman of Free State: "You're going to end up just like your parents." (That's good, he said.)
Â Cravens of LHS: "Whether you hated high school or loved every second of it, LHS has touched each of us in some way."
There were 18 Free State valedictorians and 14 at LHS.
Students voted for their respective teacher of the year. At LHS, social studies teacher David Platt was honored. Free State's top educator was counselor Joel Frederick.