Teacher Chris Perkins expresses his pride in LHS graduate and U.S. Marine Corps enlistee Lauren Sumner during her Friday morning commencement exercises. He describes her as his “former student, neighbor and friend.” L&T photo/Jessica Crawford
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
The Liberal High School Senior Class will not officially graduate for two more weeks. However, as a result of a selfless act on the part of one particular Senior, a special commencement exercise was conducted Friday morning at James Maskus Auditorium for Lauren Sumner.
Sumner has enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and will leave for boot camp today. Sumner had every opportunity to graduate with her class, but a situation in Dodge City made her feel that someone else would be better served by that opportunity.
“Lauren changed her duty date with a Marine-enlistee recruit from Dodge City,” Lauren’s mother, Pauline Sumner said. “That student was supposed to be in Oklahoma City on Sunday to ship out on Monday, but she changed dates with this girl because she will be the first in her family to graduate.”
Superintendent Lance Stout was nothing short of proud of Sumner and the sacrifices she is making for another student – and for her country.
“Not only is Miss Sumner a great athlete, she is a good student,” Stout said. “And what she is going to do for us, ultimately, by going to the military and serving our country – I am just extremely excited for her and her future.
“I found out about her commitment and her willingness to make a sacrifice to leave early so someone else could have a graduation opportunity with her classmates,” he added. “That speaks volumes about this young lady and I am excited to be here today.”
LHS Principal Keith Adams opened the ceremony with similar comments regarding Sumner.
“This is a great kid,” he said prior to his speech. “This is typical behavior of Lauren, she is one to sacrifice for others.”
USD No. 480 Board of Education’s Vice President Tammy Sutherland-Abbott had the honor of presenting Sumner with her diploma. As a mother of a son with a military career ahead of him, Sutherland-Abbott was beaming with pride.
“I think Lauren is very unselfish and I am very proud of what she did from a student that is not from our school – she did this for another student from Kansas,” Sutherland-Abbott said. “It was my honor to hand her that diploma. I am so proud of her what she is doing, not only for her school and community, but her country.”
At the conclusion of Sumner’s graduation ceremony, teacher Chris Perkins had a special message for her.
“This is my former student, my neighbor, my friend,” Perkins said. “I spent six and a half years in the United States Army and you are going into the United States Marines. I am so proud of you that I want to close by saying one thing to you that you will never hear another guy in the Army ever say – Hoo-rah!”