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Lake Travis High School Graduation cut short

Posted: Wed, 8 Jun 2016 01:53 PM - 7,774 Readers

By: Rachel Rice

Graduation cut short photo
Graduating Lake Travis High School seniors enter Cavalier Stadium on June 3 for the commencement ceremony, which was shortened and portions canceled due to inclement weather.

Lake Travis High School graduating seniors had their graduation ceremony cut short Friday as dark clouds menaced Cavalier Stadium, leaving some students and parents let down that their meaningful moment wasn’t planned differently by the school district.

An open letter by graduating senior Irene Chiang expressed frustration at the decisions of district officials. At first, she stated, the ceremony “proceeded as normal” with speeches by the student body president, valedictorian and salutatorian.

“After the valedictorian’s speech, the principal and superintendent decided to hurry up and certify us, quickly telling us to move our tassels to the left and throwing our caps up in the air, all the while completely skipping the trademark commencement and senior class president’s closing speech,” Chiang stated in her letter.

The stadium was evacuated, and parents and students waited for an hour before school officials decided to not continue with the ceremony or reschedule for a later time, students and district officials said. Lancaster issued a statement the same day, saying there were logistical reasons why they ceremony could not have been held indoors, including size and availability. The district invited graduating seniors to have a photo taken with a school board member as a substitute for crossing the stage to receive their diplomas.

“Because weather predictions are poor for Saturday evening, we will not be rescheduling our ceremony for tonight,” Lancaster’s statement, issued Friday, read. “Because admission tickets were taken Friday night, we have no way to reissue limited tickets (two per graduate) to hold the ceremony Sunday afternoon in our (Performing Arts Center).”

The following day, valedictorian Whitney Souery posted a Facebook status appealing to district officials, which was shared more than 20 times.

“After reading Dr. Lancaster’s email, I am disappointed in LTISD for their attempts to correct the mistakes made last night,” she stated. “Holding an informal photo opp. with the Board of Trustees is not a substitute for commencement exercises. Ideally, LTISD should instead offer a continuation of the ceremony on Sunday afternoon, beginning from where it left off.”

Lancaster said holding the ceremony at a place such as the Cedar Park Center, while it would provide the necessary capacity, was problematic because scheduling priority was given to school districts with more than one high school. He said he believed parents would not have wanted the graduation ceremony to take place several days after school had ended.

“They could have easily moved them into the PAC and split them up into groups,” parent David Smith said. “It would be no more inconvenient than having everyone sit in an athletic facility for an hour and a half waiting for them to finally say no.”

Chiang concluded her letter discussing the importance of “walking across the stage.”

Chiang went on to say in the letter that “since this precious moment was robbed from us, many of us still feel like high school students, and like we have not actually graduated yet.”

*  Story Contributed by: Rachel Rice


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