Grads encouraged to grab life by the horns
May 31, 2014
Roaring Fork School District hosted three back to back graduations on Saturday. Although Glenwood Springs High School's outdoor event was the largest, Roaring Fork and Basalt high schools also drew large crowds of proud relatives and fellow students.
"Thanks for making us so proud and letting us have the privilege to be part of your lives," said Superintendent Diana Sirko, who, along with Assistant Superintendent Rob Stein, attended each ceremony.
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Roaring Fork High School's 60 graduates received more than $255,000 in local scholarships and were offered more than $1 million in scholarship funds by the schools they applied to.
In keeping with Carbondale's character, the ceremony was a musical one. A musical interlude for students to hand out flowers to loved ones was billed on the program as "Good Vibrations," but what ended up playing was more hip-hop than surf rock. Mark Gray lead the RFHS band in Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" and Farina's "La Lire" in addition to the national anthem and the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance", and senior Izzi Mata performed two compositions of her own: "Let me Know Where I Can Find You" and "Something's Waiting".
Dr. Cliff Colia, who previously served as principal for the class at both Roaring Fork High and Carbondale Middle School, took a detour from his road trip along Route 66 to serve as the guest speaker. After quizzing the grads on business, grammar, and math, Colia embarked on a speech shaped by his recent experiences on the open road, including "the rocking chair rule" and "better living through bacon".
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"Don't be so shackled by your goals that you miss the good stuff along the way," he advised his former students. "Don't sell anyone short," he added. "Always look strangers in the eye and know that there's something good within them."
That goes double for the graduates themselves, Colia said, "Every one of you has something unique and important to offer the world, and I hope you share your gifts."
He made sure to reach out to the whole crowd by concluding with a short speech in Spanish, the gravitas was only slightly undermined by his rendition of "Feliz Gravidad", backed by Gray on the guitar.
Valedictorian Paul Roman touched on the road metaphor in his own speech. "Although the end of high school may not be the defining moment of our lives, it does mean we have reached a crossroads," he said.
In addition to their diplomas, graduates received letters from staff members that were handed out by secretary Doug Pratt, who will retire at the end of the year.
Boxtel encourages Longhorns to 'soar'
Basalt High School's 76 graduates include two Evans Scholars and a Daniels Scholar. The class chose Amanda Boxtel, who was paralysed in a skiing accident 22 years ago and now walks with a bionic exoskeleton, as their keynote speaker.
"Walk with pride and take every step with intention," Boxtel told the crowd after she mounted the stage to wild applause.
"I encourage you not to see things as they are and ask why, but see things that never were and ask why not," she added. "This is your time to soar. If I can do it, you can, too."
Valedictorian Naomi Hennefeld and salutatorian Maggie Morlind were comparatively brief in their speeches. "We must all dedicate ourselves to giving a unique vitality to our existence," said Hennefeld.
Cora Cheung and Arielle Lyons performed a flute duet of "When you believe" with Shanti Gruber accompanying on the piano, and the BHS Senior Chamber Choir contributed a stirring rendition of Phillip Phillips' "Home".
Departing Vice Principal Adriana Hire presented the "Wall of Fame" award to Felipe Martinez and Berta Rivera, then read the names of each graduate. Meztly Exparza and Ivano Del Piccolo lead the changing of the tassels and concluded the ceremony.