Glenwood Springs High School speakers encourage perseverance at graduation |

Glenwood Springs High School speakers encourage perseverance at graduation

Tatiana Flowers
Graduates laugh during the commencement address by Glenwood teacher Norm Bolitho Saturday morning in Glenwood Springs.
Kyle Mills

Jason Spoon, 16, graduated early from Glenwood Springs High School Saturday. The junior said his favorite quote is, “The extra mile is never crowded.”

At one point he worked 40 hours per week while attending the local high school, working at The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and engaging in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

He managed to obtain enough college credits to help him leave the school early and “get a head start in life.”

He said a person who is willing to go the extra mile will grow more, learn more and mature faster than someone who isn’t. Other speakers at his commencement had a similar take.

Norm Bolitho, the commencement speaker, started his speech by saying, “This year has a little more of a personal feel to it,” acknowledging the list of graduating students whose parents teach at the school.

Bolitho, a 1981 graduate of GSHS, said he’s proud to be a Demon, referencing the school’s mascot and accomplishments.

He said the school’s mock trial team is one of the best in the state, athletics teams often place at the top of the Western Slope’s leagues, and academically, the school is rated one of the best high school’s in the state.

“This graduating class helps make Glenwood Springs High School the amazing school it is,” he said to the class of 192 students who attended the Saturday ceremony.

Bolitho’s speech came in a series of anecdotes. He recalled stumbling upon a group of students who kept yelling “51 days” in the hallways, a symbol he’d later learn was the student’s joking attempt to prove their intellectual ability.

He told those gathered at the ceremony on Stubler Memorial Field that the group of students took a trip to Target and bought a jigsaw puzzle intended for 2-3 year-0lds. They completed it in 51 days.

Persistence for him, he says, wasn’t as light hearted.

His goal of becoming a broadcast journalist was cut short by his fear of failing. He said he pursued a career in construction because it paid well and he didn’t have to worry about rejection.

He turned toward unhealthy vices and said it wasn’t until he met a woman, a teacher and his future wife, whom he emulated, that he decided to become an educator himself.

“And here I am, 22 year later, doing what I love,” he said to students.

He reminded students,” Don’t be afraid to fail,” as successful icons like Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney also faced trials and tribulations before they reached their fame.

Bolitho closed his speech in tears, by sharing a quote from Will Ferrell: “You’re never not afraid,” he said. “I’m still afraid.”

“But my fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of what if. What if I never tried at all?”

Valedictorian William Kaufman echoed Bolitho’s belief.

“If there’s one piece of wisdom I’ve gained, it is to persist,” he said to fellow students.

“It’s never easy to be the underdog or to bounce back from failure. All of us could have quit but we didn’t,” he said.

“So when something stops your path or blocks your dreams, do what you did to get here now.”

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