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Sunday, 21st January 2018

in Lakeway TX

Bee Cave Weather

Controversy over Graduation at LTHS



Feelings are running high in both directions following the evacuation of the LTHS Graduation Ceremony on the Football filed last Friday - when the THOR lightning detectors went off and heavy rain approached.


 Many of the comments on BeeCaveBee on Facebook showed how upset some people were.


The Sunday Photo session seems to have helped somewaht but there are still many voices asking for the District to find an indoor venue for future events.


LTISD head Brad Lancaster posted a full explanation of what happened - quoted here in full:


"Dear Students and Parents of the LTHS Class of 2016 and LTHS Staff,

I want to offer my apologies to our students, parents, and staff for the way things turned out Friday night for our Commencement Ceremonies. Our goal was to have an event to honor the work and success of our graduating seniors. That did not happen as we intended.

As a result, the high school will hold a photo opportunity for students at 2:00 pm in the Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon, June 5. This will not be a recreation of the commencement exercise or a calling of names, but simply a chance for students to have their picture taken in their cap and gown with a member of the Board of Trustees. Students will also be given their leather diploma cover. I understand that this is a poor substitute for the real thing, but the goal is to at least give students a chance to have their photo taken. The high school administration will be communicating additional details via email shortly.

While people recognize that we cannot control the weather, we received a number of suggestions Friday night that warrant a response from me. It was suggested that we should have held the ceremony indoors. To begin with, the decision was made last year to move our ceremony to Cavalier Stadium due to scheduling with the Cedar Park Center and other potential venues. The 2015 Commencement was scheduled for Thursday night. Due to availability, we were given the option of holding our ceremony on the following Sunday morning or Monday evening. Knowing that many of our families would not want that kind of delay, we ultimately decided to move this event to our own venue. There are very few facilities in our area that can hold a crowd of our size. These facilities are booked months in advance, have multiple school districts vying for availability, have their own sets of pros and cons, and are expensive.

It was also suggested last night that we should have moved the ceremony to the Performing Arts Center (PAC) once weather threatened. When our Commencement ceremony began, we had a crowd of at least 5,500. When we evacuated the stadium, spectators were divided between the Cavalier Activity Center, the LTHS Cafeteria, and the PAC. Even with some families choosing to leave, we estimated that there were too many people to move the event to the PAC. For safety reasons, we were not willing to try and squeeze everyone from all three holding areas into a 1,450 seat auditorium.

Another suggestion was that we should have inverted the program and begun with calling names first. Even if we had started with calling names, we would not have gotten through the entire list considering the inclement weather we were facing. In my mind, that would have created a bigger problem, calling some names and not others.

Because weather predictions are poor for Saturday evening, we will not be rescheduling our ceremony for
tonight. 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 PAC. There is no way to accurately determine, at this time, how many people would try to attend a ceremony in the PAC and our seating there is limited. Finally, we are unable to reschedule the ceremony for Sunday afternoon in the stadium because the chairs, stage, and sound system were rented through Saturday. As a result, our plan is to offer a photo opportunity to students Sunday afternoon.

I recognize that there are very strong feelings about these events and many different opinions on how we should have responded. For those of you who were disappointed by the events Friday night, the decisions were mine and I offer my apologies. I have nothing but praise for our high school and maintenance staff who responded admirably under difficult circumstances. We will review future commencement plans and our evacuation procedures and make any necessary improvements. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Once again, we offer our congratulations to the LTHS Class of 2016.


Brad Lancaster"


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