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Pictures added at 5:12 p.m. Saturday, May 21:
Dozens of Lawrence Virtual School graduates walked through the stage to collect their degrees on Saturday, and dozens more not present in person celebrated with them.
Leah Wisdom, Director of Instruction and Professional Development for Lawrence Public Schools, delivered the keynote address. She said her life plans began to take shape when she was very young – she knew she would be a writer, journalist and author of books.
But things didn’t quite go as planned. She failed her first semester in college and became a mother at a very young age, she said.
“I found myself a little disoriented because my plans and my trip were changing without my permission,” she said.
Plans give us a roadmap and make us feel safe, but we’re afraid things won’t work — and sometimes they just don’t work, Wisdom said.
She encouraged students to embrace their journey, even when things don’t go as planned.
“Defend yourself and defend those who cannot defend themselves. Be bold, be brave. Be brave and do your best,” Wisdom said.
“And remember, it’s not going to go the way you planned. It will get better. »
Graduate Tiana Smith plans to attend Washburn University and major in mass media with a major in public relations.
“I have always been known as the sick child. Because of that, I hated school,” Smith began in his speech to his classmates. “I hated points of presence. I hated the pizza nights the kids had while I had to sit alone in the library because I was the only one who missed more than five days of school.
She missed weeks of school at a time and she said friends would torment her when she could finally return.
In 2015, her mother enrolled her in Lawrence Virtual School, and at first she was terrified, she said.
“It was a strange adjustment to see names on screen, but for once there were no whispers when I walked into the classroom.”
And within weeks, she got to meet some of those on-screen names on various field trips, Smith said. She was able to learn the stories from her classmates and felt like she was finally fitting in.
“Some share my story. Some are dedicated to sports. Some are constantly moving to different countries. Yet we all have one thing in common: technical difficulties are the bane of our existence,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
But whatever your story, “LVS has always been a place where everyone can find a home,” she said.
“I met students who helped me realize my full potential. They encouraged me to pursue leadership opportunities and made me realize that nothing was impossible,” she said.
Class salutatorian LeiLoni De Pew is heading to the University of Utah for a double major in Theater Education and Deaf Education.
Filling her speech with quotes and allusions to stories and fairy tales, she told her classmates to never forget the stories they learned and use them to create their own stories.
“What makes a hero is their ability to persevere and keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough. Don’t underestimate yourself,” she said.
Like Cinderella, Nemo and other beloved characters, she said, “we need to leave our homes and find out who we really are.”
“You are the one who can fill the world with sunshine,” she said. “You know exactly where you are going. Have faith in your dreams.
Pictures of Molly Adams
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Mackenzie Clark (her), journalist/founder of the Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.