Everyone speaks at Yampah graduation | PostIndependent.com

Everyone speaks at Yampah graduation

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. PearsonAbril Hernandez and the rest of Yampah Mountain High Schools class of 2005 throw their graduation caps in the air Friday at the end of the commencement ceremony at Sunlight Mountain Resort. Thirty-five students graduated.

By his own admission, the Rev. Roy Altman helped to put on a risky graduation ceremony Friday. Altman called on the audience gathered Friday at Sunlight Mountain Resort to participate in Yampah Mountain High School’s graduation ceremony. He made a plea for foot-stomping and cheering each time he said, “It’s graduation time.”The audience, which filled Sunlight’s deck and spread up onto the ski hill, delighted in the whoops and hollers he evoked.

But the risky part was not the audience. The risk came from the fact that Yampah is an unranked school, which means it elects no valedictorian or salutatorian, or anyone else who would traditionally give a speech at graduation. Instead, “we open up the microphone to everybody,” he told the crowd. “It’s a little bit risky.”But the risk was low on Friday in Yampah’s 35-member class of 2005. Most students took their opportunity to thank parents and friends and teachers. Many young women held babies dressed in caps and gowns and thanked their teachers in Yampah’s Teen Parent Program. Still others thanked climbing partners for belaying them during their time at Yampah.

“You all in your own way have made Yampah a better place,” one student told the crowd, before turning to teacher Sonja Linman. “But Sonja … shoutout! Whoop, whoop girl,” he said to laughs from the crowd. After the students said all their thank-yous and took their seats again, the school’s advisors said something about each student. Most speeches were full of praise and confidence for what the graduates would do in the years to come, from mothering to musicianship.

One teacher recalled a student who played guitar at school in a big wig and a skintight bodysuit and plans now to move to Los Angeles for a rock ‘n’ roll career. In his hopes for the 2005 graduates, principal Tom Heald quoted commentator John Rosenthal, saying that kids, full of imagination and uniqueness, grow up to be “just another adult in a seersucker suit.”Rosenthal had apparently never been to visit Yampah Mountain High School. “These guys behind me will no be boring adults in seersucker suits,” Heald said.

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