PARACHUTE — It’s one thing to earn the highest grades in your graduating class.
It’s another to skip the fifth grade, excel at math and science, earn 32 credits at Colorado Mountain College while still in high school, belong to the National Honor Society, be active in the school’s theater group, log in countless hours of community service, be the head cheerleader and receive an ROTC scholarship to study physics at the Colorado School of Mines.
Mara Mayfield, the valedictorian of Grand Valley High School’s Class of 2014, has accomplished all those things — at the age of 16.
“We all have our talents and things that we’re good at,” Principal Ryan Fink said as he introduced Mayfield. “But ever since I’ve known Mara, she is someone that doesn’t settle for mediocrity.”
Mayfield was one of 68 seniors who took part in Grand Valley High School’s commencement ceremony Saturday morning, where friends and family watched them receive their diplomas and listen to words of advice from their teachers, sponsors and peers.
In her speech, Mayfield said she hoped the class would leave a legacy for future classes in how they supported each other through all kinds of experiences.
“Our most important success is that we did all this together,” she said. “And today is the last day we are going to be together.”
Miranda Sheridan was named “historian,” an honor designating the third place ranking in the class, and Lauren Paskett was the salutatorian.
“There’s nothing to hold us back now,” Paskett said to her classmates. “We’re equipped with the tools and knowledge to go anywhere we want.”
The commencement address was given by biology teacher and class sponsor Kim Whelan, who was also honored Friday as Grand Valley’s teacher of the year.
Whelan addressed the importance of discipline, not just to the students, but to the parents as well. Using examples from the animal kingdom, she pointed out that what might seem cruel by a mother otter when she holds her young underwater was actually a way to teach them to swim and give them skills necessary to survive.
Parents should use discipline as a verb, meaning “training to obey,” while students should use the word as a noun, by using it to make smart choices.
Before the ceremony, Fink addressed the students as they got ready to line up, referring to their school name as the “Cardinals” and urging them to fly.
“You’re flying somewhere,” he said. “Go do great things and be the best you can be. Work hard. If you work hard, good things will come to you. Each of you has attributes and strengths and each of you are your own individual person. I’m very, very thankful to be part of your lives. Thank you. Go fly.”