Archive for Sunday, May 15, 2011

Real world’ on hold for graduating high school seniors in Lawrence

May 15, 2011


Neel Patel walked out of his AP Calculus AB class at 2 p.m. Friday, finally closing the book on his three-year term as a Lawrence High School student.

Done. Finished. Outta here.

“Technically,” he shrugged Friday.

That’s because he really isn’t done.

While Patel is among many classmates at Lawrence High and across town at Free State High School who won’t ever open another book, take another test or twist another locker combination in the Lawrence school district, they won’t formally be entering the “real world” for another couple of weeks.

That’s because all seniors share the same fate: They won’t actually graduate — march into their respective stadiums, listen to speeches and turn their colorful tassels — until May 29, a week after Kansas University Commencement and in the midst of Memorial Day weekend.

“I guess I’ll just hang out with my friends, play some basketball, come back for graduation and get ready for college,” Patel said, putting the finishing touches on a model airplane in College Prep Engineering, his second-to-last class. “I’m not going on vacation or anything like that.”

He’ll leave that for Mack Pryor, a senior who is among students who still need to take finals Monday and Tuesday. Pryor missed more than five classes this semester, so he couldn’t opt out.

Not that he’s complaining. The extra school isn’t what’s crimping his after-school plans. He and Pat Fay, a senior at Free State, would have bolted Lawrence on May 23 for their post-graduation road trip to northern California. Now, because graduation won’t arrive until a week later, they’ll be left with a lot of “sitting around” until the big ceremony and then an abbreviated trek afterward.

“It’s cutting it down to nine days,” said Pryor, who would prefer to have more time for free-wheeling in his 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse. “We’re just going to drive around. We’re kind of idiots.”

Facing more than two weeks between the end of classes and graduation is a function of both the calendar and circumstances, said Ted Berard, associate principal at Free State. He figures prospective graduates could use the time to relax or to get a head start on summer jobs.

“It periodically happens like this because of KU (Commencement), because our backup in case of rain is Allen Fieldhouse,” Berard said. “We’re usually working around KU’s graduation.

“This year, calendar-wise, this is how it worked out.”

Pryor doesn’t trouble himself looking for an explanation, or some rationalization, or really anything ending in “-ation.” He just knows he needs to be back in time to start his summer gig as a commissary manager for Sporting Kansas City, and the lead-up time will be squeezed by the school schedule.

Then again, that’s just the way it is: Welcome to the real world.

“It’s going to be weird just sitting around waiting for graduation,” said Pryor, who considers himself to be a “very vague” person. “(But) the whole school system’s kind of strange.”


tomatogrower 6 years, 11 months ago

This Pryor boy seems like a real winner. There's a KU student wanting to raise money for tornado victims. Maybe you should try helping out. Or is that not vague enough for you? If he was my kid, he would be cleaning out the garage, mowing the yard, getting things ready for the graduation party. Seems like he has had too much time on his hands for a long time. What an embarrassing interview.

Roadtrip 6 years, 11 months ago

This is Mack Pryor, the "Real Winner" that had an embarrassing interview. For your information, I have a job starting this June with Sporting Kansas City, I'm starting an online business called, the website will be a sort of online swap meet, allowing car lovers like myself to trade parts and cars through the internet, rather than waiting for larger meets like the annual swap at the Douglas County Fair Grounds. With these two jobs, I plan to pay my way through two years at Johnson County Community College, and then pursue a degree in engineering at Kansas University, rather than relying on student loans or money from my parents. Maybe I could have said things better in the interview, but it seems like people are far too quick to judge based on a few sentences about what I plan to do on my small vacation this summer.

costello 6 years, 11 months ago

I know the Pryor boy, and, yes, he is a real winner. He's one of the nicest teens I know, actually. He gave up most of his spring break to babysit his young cousins without pay and without complaint, because his aunt can't afford child care right now. And the last time I saw him, on Mother's Day, he was changing the oil in his mother's car - not because it was Mother's Day but because it's one of his regular chores.

He's a decent kid who stays out of trouble, isn't at all mouthy or surly, and is always willing to cheerfully help out when needed. Sounds like a winner to me.

KU_cynic 6 years, 11 months ago

So, students at Lawrence high schools can opt out of final exams based on attendance? And presumably their teachers can opt of of designing exams, grading them, and maintaining high standards and learning objectives for the last few weeks of classes.

Another fine example of "We pretend to teach, and they pretend to learn."

This is the kind of low standards that result in American students ranking so low on international comparisons.

What a waste.

vwelch 6 years, 11 months ago

They can opt out if they have an A in the class and have less than 5 absences. Instead of being so critical, maybe you should try being supportive.

Jama Crady Maxfield 6 years, 11 months ago

KU Cynic, don't comment on things you know very little about. Between state (standard) tests, AP Tests, and SAT/ACTs, these kids are OVERLY tested. Most college seniors have been accepted to colleges already and typically "shut down" after spring break. Is one more test really going to truly measure what they've learned all year? That being said, they started the policy of opting out of finals more than 15 years ago as a tool that could be used to encourage attendance the last few weeks for seniors. It has worked as an excellent incentive, isn't foul proof. If you'd read the article fully, you would see that the student who missed more than 5 classes still had to take his finals. The majority of kids will end up taking finals as very few actually have relatively perfect attendance to opt out. Therefore......teachers are still teaching and kids are still learning (and being tested......again) BUT......those kids who have all As (another portion of the needed equation of opting out) and have missed less than 5 class periods (TOTAL for the entire semester) can opt out. Again....the number that this applies to is very small. Please don't try to insinuate that teachers aren't doing their jobs or that it is a waste.

Shardwurm 6 years, 11 months ago

"Please don't try to insinuate that teachers aren't doing their jobs or that it is a waste."

Likewise, please don't insinuate that ALL teachers ARE doing their jobs or that it is all beneficial.

Once we can agree that all teachers are not hard-working angels battling low budgets and stupid parents then perhaps progress can be made to improve the education system. As long as the propaganda system continues to make ALL teachers out to be model citizens who do their jobs flawlessly we'll never be able to make headway.

Pay the good ones. Fire the bad ones. Easy in theory - impossible in practice.

pittstatebb 6 years, 11 months ago

Quite right and quite honestly has nothing to do with education. Teachers are no better or worse as a whole than any other work force. There are good doctors and doctors whose incompetence kills people. Good attorneys and attorneys that hide illegal activities. The list goes on and on. And that is why it is impossible in practice. If you fire any 10 employees in any profession and replace them, you will end up with a certain number of employees who are just as bad if not worse than the ones you just fired.

The silver lining with teachers is that it doesn't cost 25 million to fire them.

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