Rain or shine, LHS community celebrates graduation

Members of the 2015 Lawrence High School graduating class toss their caps into the air at the end of the Commencement on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at Lawrence High School.

With many umbrellas sprouting from the bleachers, it was something of a surprise that hardly any of the Lawrence High students on the football field unfolded any of their own.

Perhaps the flat-topped caps signifying their graduation shielded them from the rain well enough.

“Considering the rain, I thought it was a great celebration,” said Lawrence school district Superintendent Rick Doll.

Some drizzle came and went during Lawrence High’s 141st graduation ceremony Tuesday. Doll said beforehand that rain had not been expected when the time came to make a call on having the ceremony indoors versus outdoors.

Nevertheless, more than 2,000 people cheered on as about 300 students received their diplomas — and bounced around inflatables fit for a beach — on a night that was also chilly and windy.

Among them was Chris Greenfield, who represents the fifth generation of his family to earn a diploma from Lawrence High. The chain began back in 1900 (the family isn’t certain about the year) with great-great-grandfather Charles Dicker.

“It’s been pretty cool. It’s been a lot to live up to,” said Greenfield, who will attend Kansas University next fall to study engineering.

He said he “definitely” feels some pressure to make sure any kids he has also attend his newly christened alma mater.

“I’m not really the sentimental type, but it’s pretty cool,” said his dad, Donald, who is also a Chesty Lion.

Two students spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony. Joo-Young Lee began the evening by taking out a selfie stick and snapping a photo with her classmates in the background. She then spoke about how her class and generation are not simply social media addicts.

“We have proven we are individuals who care about so much more than what is on social media,” she said, after referencing various groups that students are involved in, like student government or Habitat for Humanity.

She embraced the apparent contradiction between her words and selfie-taking by quoting Walt Whitman (“Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself… I am large. I contain multitudes.”) and telling her classmates they have “the freedom to contradict” themselves.

Another student speaker, Hayley Luna, offered some advice to her classmates about coping with failure in the years to come.

She said people often try to forget their shortcomings, even though they can offer a valuable learning opportunity.

“Our true character comes out when we handle failure,” Luna said. “Failures are not an end, but a beginning.”