By DIANE GASPER-O’BRIEN
The month of May is usually busy for most families with school children, what with Mother’s Day, all kinds of end-of-the-school year activities, graduations and Memorial Day weekend all falling in the fifth month of the year.
This year has been especially hectic for Lloyd and Iris Lang.
The Hays couple use the words “blessed” and “fortunate” while describing their marriage of 46 years. And why not?
All five of their grown children and their families live in the Hays area, so Lloyd and Iris get to enjoy their 12 grandchildren at the drop of a hat.
The Lang children grew up working together with their parents on there family farm east of Hays, a family tradition Lloyd said he remembers from his childhood as well.
“We’ve been very lucky,” Iris said. “They were able to bond together growing up, and now all the first cousins have that opportunity, too.”
Following their college careers, the five Lang siblings either stayed in Hays to raise their families or returned home within a few years afterward.
Lloyd said he and Iris “were surprised with a couple of them coming back to Hays,” but definitely pleased.
“We are so blessed that they are all here,” Iris added.
With the Langs’ four oldest grandchildren all attending high school at Thomas More Prep-Marian this past year and another there in junior high, their parents and grandparents have been busy attending musical, scholastic and athletic events.
“Junior high sports, varsity sports, jayvee sports, we enjoy the all,” Lloyd said,
In the span of just a couple of weeks this month, three of the Langs’ grandchildren qualified for state competition in two different sports, and another won a state forensics title. They celebrated grandchildren’s promotions from kindergarten, sixth grade and eighth grade. And last weekend, their two oldest granddaughters graduated from Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, carrying on a long family tradition.
All five of Lloyd’s and Iris’ children are TMP-Marian alumni, following in the footsteps of their dad (St. Joseph Military Academy) and mom (Marian High School), predecessors of TMP-Marian.
Elly and Halle – daughters of the Langs’ two oldest sons, John (and his wife Stacey) and Greg (Lanae) – sat next to each other at graduation and will both continue their education at Kansas State University this fall.
During the graduation ceremony, Halle and her younger brother, Ethan, both were honored with special awards. Halle was a finalist for the Medal of Excellence, the highest honor given to a student at TMP, and Ethan earned the leadership award for the junior class. Elly won a state title in forensics earlier this month and will be busy this summer before heading off to college. She was one of four TMP students to qualify for competition at the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Md., in June.
If you think all that’s a lot to keep track of, add this to the Langs’ schedule.
Ethan qualified for two running events for this weekend’s Class 3A State Track and Field Championships in Wichita. He will compete in the 1,600-meter run today, as well as the 3,200-meter relay. Running one of the legs on that relay is cousin Lucas, John’s youngest son who just finished his freshman season.
Of course, Lloyd and Iris will be in the stands watching their grandsons compete in Cessna Stadium. They were hoping to make a stop in Newton on their way to Wichita to watch Halle, a member of the TMP girls’ soccer team the past four years, in the state semifinals. But the Monarch girls lost in the state quarterfinals at Topeka Tuesday, ending a stellar career for Halle, who helped her team win three regional titles in four years.
Grandpa and Grandma Lang will have plenty of youth baseball and softball games to attend this summer. Their three younger children, Mark (and wife Amanda), Gwen Hodges (Daniel) and Kevin (Tasha), have six children ages 1 to 7, most who are already involved in a lot of activities, too.
Then this fall, Ethan and Lucas will be joined in high school by another cousin, Lance, who will be a freshman. Lance, Mark’s oldest son, was a standout athlete in eighth grade this past year, and there is a possibility those three cousins could all run on the same relay team in 2019.
Ethan’s younger sister, Mia, also will be at TMP this next year, as a seventh-grader in the junior high school.
But that’s next year.
Lloyd and Iris have to concentrate on one year, one month, one week, one day at a time. And today is state track.
The couple plans to enjoy this event much like they did 20-some years ago when Greg was winning state championships as a sprinter at TMP, then went on to enjoy an All-American career at Fort Hays State University.
“No matter what happens,” Iris said of the state meet, “I think it will be really exciting.”