Archive for Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weekday graduations get mixed reviews from parents and families

May 22, 2013


Parents and relatives of graduating seniors are giving mixed reviews to the Lawrence school district's decision to hold commencement ceremonies on back-to-back weekdays instead of on a Saturday or Sunday as it has done in the past.

Staci Ahlvers, whose son Grant Taylor-Ahlvers graduated from Free State High School on Wednesday night, said it proved inconvenient for her family.

“A lot of family couldn't come who would have liked to have been here from out of town because it was in the middle of the week,” she said.

But Tom McMahon, whose son Lee also graduated from Free State, said it worked out fine for him.

“I just took a day's vacation,” he said. “It's a special day, so it was not a problem.”

The change in schedule might have caught some families by surprise because the decision to hold this year's ceremonies on weekdays was actually made more than a year ago, at the Lawrence school board's April 9, 2012, meeting.

At that meeting, which was reported in the Journal-World the following day, Free State Principal Ed West and Lawrence High Principal Matt Brungardt reported that it had long been a challenge to coordinate the two high school ceremonies around Kansas University's graduation.

"The school administrators also feel strongly that graduation should closely follow the last day of classes for seniors," the principals wrote in a memo to the board at the time.

In years past, the schools used to have back-to-back ceremonies at Memorial Stadium. But that changed a few years ago when the high schools got their own football stadiums. Since then, they've held separate graduations at their own stadiums.

This year, the last day for seniors was Thursday, May 16. KU had scheduled its graduation the following Sunday, May 19, and reserved Monday the 20th as a backup date in case of rain on Sunday.

That meant the next available days were Tuesday and Wednesday, the 21st and 22nd.

It's still not certain, however, whether the Lawrence district will follow the same pattern in future years.

"The committee operated under the presumption that the dates were being recommended for next year (2013) only and no (precedent) for future years was being set," the memo from West and Brungardt said. "If the events go well next year and weekday graduations continue, both principals feel a consistent and permanent plan would be best."

Kim Johnson, whose son Jackson Lockwood graduated from Free State on Wednesday, said it worked out for their family because her husband teaches at Washburn University in Topeka, which held its graduation on May 11.

“It really allowed us to separate it up. I truly appreciated it,” Johnson said.

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Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 6 months ago

There are many parents who have to work. They often don't have days off in the middle of the week.

It works out fine for administrative work, like Kim Johnson, who is cited above. But many other families can't make the middle of the week schedule.

It should be changed back to the weekends. This is too important a day to have parents and family miss this event.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 6 months ago

Many parents have to work on weekends, too. Many persons cannot travel for a Sunday afternoon ceremony and then get back to where ever home is for Monday morning work.

There are always objections, whether to weekdays, weekends, morning, afternoon, evening, short ceremony, long ceremony, who the commencement speaker is....

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 6 months ago

It is also easy for us to dismiss someone whose experience is different from our own point of view as irrelevant or somehow less important, such as "administrative work." That does not mean their experience or point of view is any less valid than our own.

irvan moore 4 years, 6 months ago

heck, I just want to congratulate the kids regardless of what day they graduated, good job

sweetiepie 4 years, 6 months ago

Personally, I have never heard of any school (grade school, high school, college) holding graduation on a week day in the middle of the day. Maybe other readers have and I just missed the trend, but I don't think so.
If the scheduling had to do with when people could attend (and it didn't) I can't help but think that more people would be available (off work) on the weekends than on week days (although I readily acknowledge that many people work on weekends). But having it for family convenience didn't even seem to enter into the decision. It was all about when KU has its graduation and having it as soon after school ends as possible. If those are the basis for what I considered a very strange choice of scheduling, what about having it in the evening? Nearly all of the school programs at all levels are at night during the week and they get a pretty substantial turnout. I would have attended two ceremonies yesterday if they had been on the weekend or in the evening. Instead, I attended none. I felt really bad about missing the ceremonies and I'm sure the kids would have liked to see me there.

booksliveon 4 years, 6 months ago

Lots of schools hold graduations and promotions on weekdays. I'm not that far removed from high community continues to hold graduation on a Thursday evening. Don't give yourself too much credit...graduates just want to go to the service and then open their envelopes of cash...seriously.

sweetiepie 4 years, 6 months ago

sorry--I got interrupted while writing this--I meant either "on a week day" or "in the middle of the week," not "on a week day in the middle of the day."

Clickker 4 years, 6 months ago

Its High School. What "family" really comes in from far away for that? Grandparents maybe.....but in all reality, if they are still working, they would need to take the following monday to travel if the event was on Sunday eve anyways.

mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

Aunts and uncles, cousins often come depending on how close they are as a family. it also depends whethers its a first child graduation or a last. a couple of my kids had their aunts and uncles and cousins attend. I think its inconvenient in the middle of the week. Glad I don't have to mess with it.

colicole81 4 years, 6 months ago

When I graduated High School in 1999 I had over 15 relatives travel from other states, some as far as California. I am sure I was not the exception. In addition, taking off a Friday or Monday to travel is mush easier than taking off three-four days mid week.

Daniel Speicher 4 years, 6 months ago

sweetiepie, both graduations were held at 7pm on consecutive nights.

sweetiepie 4 years, 6 months ago

you're right--I didn't mean to say they were in the daytime.

SoundMind 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm trying to figure out why the graduation ceremonies couldn't have been held on Saturday, the 18th?

gatekeeper 4 years, 6 months ago

It's very common for high school graduations to be held on weekdays and colleges usually have them on weekends.

Shawnee Mission district always has weekday graduations. SM East and South had theirs Monday, North's was Tuesday, West and Northwest had theirs last Thursday.

PhilChiles 4 years, 6 months ago

I think we're all ignoring the fact that no one, ever, has enjoyed attending a graduation ceremony. By putting it on a weekday, you make it easier for people to make up excuses to not attend. This is a step in the right direction.

PhilChiles 4 years, 6 months ago

Do you watch the weather channel for fun, too? Graduations are deadly boring. I will not consider any further debate on this subject.

elliottaw 4 years, 6 months ago

The Graduation dates where not a secret, parents work if they wanted to attend you may have to take a day off or change your shift, I am sure you boss would understand. There will never be a good time to hold it so everyone can attend, some work evenings, some work weekend. If families can't make the graduation have a little graduation party on the weekend like most families do.

IreneAdler84 4 years, 6 months ago

A bonus for this year's years graduation is that, unlike last year, no one was carried off in a stretcher because of heat exhaustion. I saw at least a half dozen last year.

Laura Wilson 4 years, 6 months ago

High school graduation in Lawrence on a weeknight is not a new thing. I graduated from LHS as did my brother four years later, on weeknights. Mine was a Tuesday, the day after the last day for seniors. I don't remember any complaints from any of my friends, both graduating and not, about people not being able to attend. At least I graduated in the stadium so there were no limits on number of guests. Due to rain my brother graduated in Allen Fieldhouse and each student only got four tickets.

Really, if you care that your kid has managed to graduate, find a way to take the evening off work. Save a vacation day. Grandparents etc., use your vacation to visit your family and celebrate the success.

amac 4 years, 6 months ago

please, please, please move it back to the weekend. Saturday after the seniors are's that simple!

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