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Why are graduations in the middle of the week?

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Apparently there has been some amount of grumbling among parents and others about the fact that the Lawrence school district is holding high schol graduation ceremonies in the middle of the week this year.

For some people, that may cause problems, especially for parents who typically work evening shifts, and those who want to invite all the aunts and uncles and grandparents to travel from out of town so they can take part in a family celebration.

Double that for families that have students in both Lawrence and Free State high schools,

But the decision to hold this year's ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday - as opposed to back-to-back ceremonies on either a Saturday or Sunday - was actually made more than a year ago. And school district officials say it came in response to a multitude of other problems that arose from all the other alternatives.

It seems to be another case that shows how negotiating school district calendars is sometimes only slightly less complicated than negotiating peace in the Middle East.

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 on their own "home turf," so to speak. That pretty much requires holding them on separate days.

The Lawrence school board actually made the decision about this year's dates more than a year ago, at its April 9, 2012, meeting, after hearing a report from Free State principal Ed West and Lawrence High principal Matt Brungardt.

The decision was reported in the Journal-World the following day.

"The high schools have been challenged in the past to schedule a date for graduation that avoids conflicts with Kansas University," the principals said in a memo to the board. "The school administrators also feel strongly that graduation should closely follow the last day of classes for seniors."

So the two schools formed a committee to explore all the options and make a recommendation to the school board. Basically, it boiled down to this:

The last day for seniors was Thursday, May 16. KU's graduation was set for the following Sunday, May 19, with Monday the 20th reserved as a back-up date.

That left Tuesday and Wednesday, the 21st and 22nd, as the next available days.

It's still not certain, however, whether the 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 precedence (sic) for future years was being set," the memo said. "If the events go well next year and weekday graduations continue, both principals feel a consistent and permanent plan would be best."

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  • Comments

    amac 2 years, 3 months ago

    I am one of the grumbling parents...please move graduation back to the weekend for 2014!

    Mark Thompson 2 years, 3 months ago

    I thought the graduation ceremony last night was almost perfect. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The graduates were not sweltering in 90+ degree heat. Those in attendance were comfortable and able to focus on the graduation. I didn't notice a difference in the size of the crowd. The only draw-back I see is that it makes it difficult for those from out of town to attend. There is no perfect solution, but I thought this was a good move at the time the decision was made and last night reinforced my support.

    Christopher Taylor 2 years, 3 months ago

    Even worse, for my situation, are the grade schools and middle schools holding recognition ceremonies during the day. Most households I'm aware of, both parents work. It makes it very difficult for both parents to be there and support their children. Just my opinion.

    lori 2 years, 3 months ago

    Since the graduation was held during the week, it didn't conflict with other graduations that my daughter's grandparents wanted/needed to attend. I think it's a bit of a hassle whether it's held during the week or on the weekend. It's not as if every person works a 9-5 job and has weekends free, anyhow.

    jhawk1998 2 years, 3 months ago

    What is wrong with a Friday night graduation? High school families are accustomed to football on Fridays so graduation on Friday night seems to make sense.

    midwestmom 2 years, 3 months ago

    What's with the mentality of scheduling AROUND the university's schedules? Are not our local high school graduates at least as important as the graduations of the college students? It gets so freaking old to have so many things dependent on what the university does! I understand that there are many local families that have relatives attending KU - but there are many more of us who do not have children there and the mid-week graduation's meant that family members had to take time off from their work and in some instances more than a day off to attend - often choosing between attending the ceremony or attending the grad party over the weekend.

    As to the beautiful evening - it was gorgeous, but that was coincidental, not scheduled. It just as easily could have been raining, hailing or blistering hot just like any other May evening.

    Lawrence, Kansas is more than the University of Kansas. It is an integral part of our culture and we reap many benefits from it socially, culturally and economically - but it is within the environs of the city - not the other way around and I for one would like that considered more frequently when major decisions are made. I think it would be foolish to schedule any graduation during the same time as KU's, but the need for a Tuesday or Wednesday evening just didn't exist. I love the Friday evening idea - if a Saturday just isn't possible.

    gatekeeper 2 years, 3 months ago

    I used to do graduation photos for one of the main companies that does both high school and college graduations. Most high school graduations are during the week and colleges are on weekends. I travelled all over the midwest and this was the trend. Only tiny little towns that had one small school did the weekend graduations, but they had NOTHING else ever going on.

    Doesn't matter when they hold it, someone will whine.

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