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Acknowledging Graduates

Government, businesses and individual community members create and display banners recognizing the Class of 2020

Banners with pictures of Rifl High School Class of 2020 hang from the light poles along Railroad Avenue in Rifle. The 16x36 banners honoring this years graduates are part of a project spearheaded by Micro Plastics, and with help from the city of Rifle, Xcel Energy, local businesses and residents who donated money for the project. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Project)

Thanks to a local business and several donors, photos of more than 120 of the 174 graduates of Rifle High School can be seen on banners along Railroad Avenue in Rifle.

Jennifer Shepherd with Micro Plastics Inc. in Rifle said she found the idea on social media a little over a month ago.

“This is what this business does, banners are what we do,” Shepherd said. “We can fundraise for this. The community can rally around these kids and do this.”

Shepherd said she is a big advocate for positive thoughts, not wanting to let the seniors dwell on the negative things due to the pandemic.

Micro Plastics was already in the process of creating yard signs honoring Rifle High School seniors, when it started to explore the options of hanging banners for each student for the public to see.

“We try to be community minded. Whenever you can get involved in something like this it is a good thing,” Micro Plastics owner Jody Winkler said.

With the city’s approval, Micro Plastics worked with the school to send a letter to all the parents and their graduating seniors, informing them about the project.

Shepherd said that they worked closely with Xcel Energy as well, which owns the light poles along Railroad Avenue.

Micro Plastics donated the labor to design the banners, and Shepherd said the money just started rolling in for the project, which was budgeted for between $5,000-$6,000 for the production of the full color banners.

With 127 seniors responding back and local businesses and a few individuals in the community pitching in and donating to cover the project, they had the amount needed in two weeks.

Last week the project came to completion. With volunteers and a crew from Xcel Energy using lifts, the banners were hung with brackets late last week along Railroad Avenue from the Centennial Trail all the way past the new pool.

Helen Rogers, manager of the Downtown Development Authority, said they pitched in and let Micro Plastics use 41 brackets they had on hand. 

“The DDA board is very much in favor of doing this — celebrating the seniors, it’s a great project,” Rogers said.

Micro Plastics donated nearly 30 other brackets to help hang all 127 banners.

Shepherd said once they started sharing what they were doing over social media, the word of mouth traveled and they were contacted by Coal Ridge High School.

“We did a second wave of just Coal Ridge High School students,” Shepherd said.

Originally they had planned to put both schools on display in Rifle, but the town of Silt stepped in and offered to let them display the CRHS banners.

“The town of Silt funded all their projects pretty much. The Coal Ridge students gave $20 per banner, we are just waiting for the students to get us their pictures,” Shepherd said.

The banners will hang for at least a month, before they are taken down and parents can come and pick them up for no charge.

“This is a huge community project, businesses all up and Railroad and Third, all over the city of Rifle have come together to support this,” Shepherd said.

“Both the city of Rifle and the town of Silt have set the bar pretty high.”

kmills@postindependent.com


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