Coal Ridge seniors commence to life after high school |

Coal Ridge seniors commence to life after high school

Ryan Hoffman

With a turn of their tassels and toss of their caps, members of the Coal Ridge High School class of 2016 gave a gracious farewell Sunday during their commencement ceremony.

Among the 123 students were noteworthy athletes and successful scholars, including Jenny Olivia Call, class valedictorian and the first graduate from the high school to attend an Ivy League school. Call is attending Brown University this fall.

“Today is the day that we have all been waiting for,” she said. “Everything we’ve done throughout the past 12 years of our education has been in preparation for this moment. Now that it’s here it feels unreal.”

Although much of the attention was directed to the current moment and the future, Call commented on the past four years and how that time has shaped the students receiving their diplomas that day.

“There have been times of incredible joy and times of sadness,” she noted. “Days that we wish we could relive and days that we would prefer not to. But the memories that we have made together are irreplaceable.”

Call struck a tone of gratitude — thanking teachers, friends and family — that would be repeated throughout the ceremony, especially during pre-recorded remarks that were played as each student accepted their degree.

“I know it sounds cliche, but without your support we truly would not be the people we are today,” Call said.

During his commencement address, Paul Harvey, advanced placement psychology and U.S. history teacher, noted that the day was as much about others, parents and teachers in particular, as it was the students.

“The teachers are celebrating as well today because we’re finally getting rid of you,” Harvey joked.

However, it was the students, clad in black and blue robes Sunday, who put in the work.

“It’s your day to shine,” Harvey said.

Garfield Re-2 Superintendent Dave Lindenberg offered a forward-looking message while congratulating the students.

“Imagine each diploma you are about to receive is a light, and it’s a match,” Lindenberg said as sunlight broke through the intermittent cloud coverage. “Imagine each of you are the fuse and now it’s time to get you ignited and get our fireworks started — congratulations.”

Many of those students will receive some help in getting “ignited.” The graduating class received a total of nearly $1.6 million in various scholarship offerings.

The Coal Ridge community also took time to thank one student in particular: James Branham. Many of Sunday’s graduates will be continuing their education, but Branham is entering the Army.

Kaitlyn Detlefsen also received recognition as the 2016 class salutatorian.

Dedication, determination, hard work, integrity and sophistication are all words used to describe Detlefsen, said Jackie Davis, assistant principal.

Detlefsen, who was recognized earlier this month as the Glenwood Springs Post Independent’s 2015-16 Female Athlete of the Year, was a noteworthy student and athlete, excelling on the court and in the classroom.

“Kaitlyn, you are going to be massively missed here at Coal Ridge High School,” Davis said.

In speaking to her classmates, Call urged them to find something they are passionate about — regardless of what that may be. Above all else, though, be kind to others, she said.

“Tearing others down will never build you up,” Call said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.