Bears’ graduation a ‘sweet’ success | PostIndependent.com

Back to: News

Bears’ graduation a ‘sweet’ success

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

RIFLE – Dude, what’s up with the lettuce? When Rifle High School graduates stepped up to the stage on the field at Bears Stadium on Sunday, each one handed Principal Todd Ellis a piece of lettuce. Finally after handing about 160 graduates their diplomas, the last in line, Brett Youngman, pulled a turtle out of a Petco box and gave it to Ellis. When he was teaching history to the current graduating class, Ellis, it turns out, had a saying about President Andrew Jackson: “He was half man and half alligator.” But you can’t buy an alligator at Petco, said valedictorian and turtle conspiracy mastermind Mitchell Kosht, whose classmates were part of the last class Ellis taught before he became an administrator this school year.

So as a symbol for their appreciation of Ellis, Kosht arranged for Ellis to get a turtle during graduation. “I’ve got a 7-year-old who will sure be excited about it,” Ellis said after the ceremony. But if the RHS class of 2006 learned that turtles like lettuce, they also learned that a graduate’s two words for success while excited are “Dude!” and “Sweet!” Or so said science teacher David Ziegler during his commencement address. Ziegler used two electromagnetized trapeze bars to illustrate that it’s “Sweet!” that graduates’ success will mean they’ll stand out, attracting others like a magnet. He let the power flow from a battery, and the two bars awkwardly clanged together.

“You’re like that battery, full of potential,” Ziegler told the graduates. “There’s nothing worse than being a battery sitting on a shelf. … Potential only becomes useful when it becomes kinetic energy.”With those words and a list of the top 10 jobs that might be a poor career choice – being the guy in charge of cloning mimes topped the list – Ziegler hopped atop a mirror and pretended to fly away like Superman, bidding the graduates success in their careers. “Now it’s your time to fly,” he said. Kosht then took the stage and after recalling fond high school memories and thanking faithful friends, he assured parents in the audience that whatever challenges befall the United States, the class of 2006 shows that “our nation is in good hands,” he said. “We shall overcome,” he said.

Perhaps the most poignant moments of the ceremony came when Bobby Layman took the stage, first to get his diploma and again to announce the turning of the tassels. After spending more than two years recovering from a debilitating injury he received on a ski slope in 2003, he returned to school with passion and success. His personal statement came from experience: “Love the good days and the bad days, because you’ll never know when the days will end. With God, everything is possible. Ski now, work later.”He extolled school staff and his classmates for pulling together to help him through his personal challenges and urged them all to never judge someone by their appearance.

Tassels were turned, the graduates threw their caps skyward, and their high school careers came to a close. To that, Layman said, “It’s one of those times where you just wanna say, ‘Sweet!'”Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520bmagill@postindependent.com