Fifty graduate from super school — Yampah |

Fifty graduate from super school — Yampah

Will Grandbois

Yampah Mountain High School has never been inclined to do things exactly by the book, and its graduation Friday morning was no exception.

Just over 50 graduates marched into the Glenwood Community Center’s ice rink, creating a bouquet of robes, caps and tassels. Some carried infants on their hips or led toddlers by the hand, a reminder of the mission that gave the school its start and that it continues to serve. Most, however, had other reasons for leaving traditional public school system in favor of an alternative provided by the Mountain Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

The school, which is based in Glenwood Springs, receives money from numerous public and private sources from around the Western Slope and made the first cut for a $10 million grant through national “XQ Super School” project.

Those in attendance already seemed to regard it as a super school.

“It is a family, it is a community, it is a place where students can go to become their true selves,” said Yampah teacher and Carbondale Trustee Alexander Hobbs, who gave the keynote address.

Hobbs couched his advice to students as what he’d learned from the school itself. He listed five rules of life, raising a corresponding finger to symbolize each one: always have fun, always point cool stuff out to your friends, love the haters, always stay committed to what you believe in and don’t sweat the small stuff.

The ceremony was punctuated with numerous musical interludes drawing from the talents of Avery Davis and Daniel Olave and backed by Louie Girardot and Sonja Linman.

Every student was invited to speak instead of a select few. Not everyone spoke, but those who did underscored the impact the school’s individual approach can have, particularly on those who have nowhere else to turn.

One common sentiment was perhaps best summed up by Kerry Byars.

“I wouldn’t have been able to make it through high school without Yampah,” she told the gathering. “I’m not sure I’d have been able to make it through anything without Yampah.”

The instructors’ remarks as they handed out diplomas were just as personal and eclectic. Sally Kilton and Laura Smith gave theirs in the form of an acronym around the recipient’s first name; Linman assigned each an animal; and Mike Podmore encouraged Anthony Fowler to share his Chewbacca impression.

In the end, the students switched their tassels, tossed their caps and, to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” proved that there are many roads to success.

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