For the first time in more than a decade, Lower Columbia College’s commencement will be outdoors.
And Friday night's graduation — under a rising, nearly full moon — is especially fitting since the guest speaker helped the U.S. land on the moon.
LCC’s 77th commencement starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Kelso High School’s 5,000-seat Ed Laulainen Stadium at Schroeder Field. The ceremony is usually held in the 1,000-seat Myklebust Gymnasium, which is closed for remodeling.
Because of the larger venue, there is no limit on guests and no ticket required. And students earning a high school diploma or a GED certificate through LCC will be honored tonight with the other graduates. In past years, they have graduated in separate ceremonies due to space limitations.
LCC students earned 736 degrees and one-year certificates during the 2012-13 year.
The commencement speaker will be Paul Laufman, LCC’s 2013 Alumnus of the Year. He graduated from Lower Columbia Junior College in 1958. He studied math and science to pursue a career in engineering and was a member of the Red Devils baseball team.
Laufman completed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington State University and a master’s of science in systems management from the University of Southern California.
An early participant in America’s space programs, Laufman was a project engineer in the development of rocket propulsion systems for major defense and manned space programs, including the Apollo moon landing and the space shuttles. In 1995, he co-founded United Paradyne Corporation, which became the exclusive contractor providing propellants and pressurants for space missions and many commercial satellite launches worldwide.