‘Our story is undeniably permanent’: Lawrence High Class of 2024 celebrates graduating

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Time waits for no one, but time must pass to write a beautiful story together, Finn Lotton-Barker told his fellow graduates Wednesday.

Lotton-Barker said that’s what Lawrence High School’s Class of 2024 did — wrote an original story that has now come to an end. During his commencement speech, which he titled, “The Past is(n’t) perfect,” Lotton-Barker challenged his peers to live in the moment.

“Our story is undeniably permanent, so our regret is irrelevant,” Lotton-Barker said. “Knowing we could’ve done things differently — that’s growing.”

During LHS’ 150th commencement ceremony Wednesday evening, 374 graduates, including 17 valedictorians, were recognized. 

Pancho Metz / Lawrence Times Finn Lotton-Barker

The Class of 2024 entered high school during the first year COVID-19 caused lockdowns, forcing them to navigate virtual learning as freshmen. That caused students to pivot, and they experienced highs and lows in between.

“We have no chance to edit or omit our lowest moments in the indestructible record of time,” Lotton-Barker said. “But we did it … We made lifelong connections with each other despite the horror of the world around us. We found ways to learn in a time where school doesn’t even feel like a safe place to be.”

Superintendent Anthony Lewis’ message to graduates was one of perseverance and patience. He told them to keep their values dear and to “leave your mark in your own unique way.”

Pancho Metz / Lawrence Times Superintendent Anthony Lewis

“You made it through, and as your superintendent I am immensely proud of each and every one of you for reaching this momentous occasion,” Lewis said. “Remember that setbacks are not roadblocks but rather stepping stones to the path to greatness … And when things are not happening as fast as you would like, know that the weight is not punishment – it’s merely preparation.”

Graduate Ivori Jones, who gave a commencement speech under the title “The World is Our Oyster,” told her peers about the endless possibilities out there for them and to lean on their dreams.

Pancho Metz / Lawrence Times Ivori Jones

Teachers Matt Ellis, Brittany Harrell, Melissa Johnson, Marci Leuschen and Julie Oswald were selected by the Class of 2024 to read the names of the graduates, assisting school board President Kelly Jones, who presented diplomas. Harrell was awarded the 2024 LHS Teacher of the Year.

Principal Quentin Rials said this graduating class “embodies care for all humankind” and has a “spirit of advocacy for what is right and fair.” Its students have made an impact that’ll be remembered, he said.

Simeon Moulton and Charlee Burghart were recognized as winners of the Kansas State High School Activities Association Citizenship Award, presented to students who demonstrate respect, responsibility and sportsmanship within their school communities. The 2024 LHS Citizen of the Year was presented by the graduating class to Marcus Souders.

School board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood, enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, read a land recognition at the beginning of the ceremony. Senior members of the LHS Chorale sang the national anthem as well as their school alma mater.

Seventeen valedictorians were honored with gold medallions for achieving perfect GPAs: Fatimah Ahmed, Emily Aldridge, Emily Brandt, Logan Daniels, Whitney Gaddie, Avery Goldman, Abigail Hout, Kaelyn McClorey, Weston Moeller, Simeon Moulton, Koen Myers, Jooseok Oh, Imole Okosun, Lauren Seybold, Marcus Souders, Gabriel Spray and Jack Tell.

Pancho Metz / Lawrence Times

Here’s a list of scholarships awarded on Senior Night and self-reported by the graduates, provided by Lawrence High School:


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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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