RIFLE — “Don’t dream big, live big” was the advice given Saturday to 138 graduating members of the Class of 2014 at Rifle High School during commencement ceremonies under sunny, blue skies.
With the stands at the football field packed with family and friends, commencement speaker Tiffany Brinkman, a teacher at the school, told the crowd how her grandfather, after a fall that caused broken ribs, told her he had regrets for about 50 of his 80 years.
“I took from that that you only get one chance, one life,” Brinkman said. “If you use that chance to do nothing but dream, you don’t necessarily get to live.”
Brinkman also told graduates to “cheat the graveyard,” which she said was “the richest place in the world, because it robs you of songs unsung and stories unwritten.”
“On each tombstone is our date of birth and when we died,” Brinkman added. “In between is a little dash that represents everything we do in between. Make that dash mean something to you. Rob the graveyard; sing all the songs and write all the stories.”
Co-valedictorian Sarah McCutchan said some of her graduates were sad that their high school years were ending.
“I’m scared,” she said. “Good-byes are scary to me because they seem so final, so permanent. I want my good-byes to be happy.”
Joseph Reyelts, the other co-valedictorian, used some humor to send his message.
“I read on Facebook that we now have all our lives ahead of us,” he said. “You truly only live once, but don’t use that as motivation to do stupid things. Do the things that matter to you and others in your life.
“So may the force be with you, live long and prosper and have fun storming the castle,” Reyelts concluded.
The Class of 2014 included the first eight graduates of the school’s International Baccalaureate program and 47 students who were awarded a total of $1.4 million in grants and college scholarships.
Note: The Thursday, May 29, issue of the Rifle Citizen Telegram will feature a story of how one graduate overcame serious medical problems to earn academic honors along with a degree, as well as more photos of the Class of 2014.