GSHS grads urged to be ‘Scouts’ in the world
Glenwood Springs High School graduates were reminded Saturday to remember the “special and rare place” where they grew up, and to carry the best characteristics of a small town wherever they go.
“Take pride in that,” commencement speaker and longtime middle and high school English teacher Lisa Hartert advised the 191 members of the class of 2017 at Stubler Memorial Field.
Hartert reminded the class about Scout Finch, the protagonist young girl in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” that was required reading in freshman English.
“You can’t help but see what this tiny heroine can teach us about how to approach today and its immediate concerns,” she advised. “She comes from a small and perfect town, in a difficult time and place, but recognizes and seeks out the good in people around her.”
Hartert read from the freshman essay of Evan Carrington, who was supposed to graduate Saturday but lost his life in an accident last year. In it, he refers to Scout’s struggles to get people to see beyond their differences.
“She learns for the first time that evidence, facts and truth have no sway over prejudice and bias,” Carrington wrote.
“It’s relevant of course in today’s world,” Hartert said, urging graduates to “climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it.”
“Be a Scout … curious, inquisitive and relentlessly hopeful,” she offered the graduates.
The day was special for GSHS Principal Paul Freeman, whose son Anton is part of this year’s graduating class.
“It’s a great day, but a tough day as well,” an emotional Freeman said in addressing the class and sending his youngest child into the world along with them. “It’s been a kick.”
Freeman also asked for a moment of silence for Carrington, whom he noted was present in spirit and in the person of his twin sister, Emily Carrington, who graduated Saturday.
The GSHS class of 2017 includes two sets of triplets and four sets of twins, including class valedictorian Kieran LeMee and his sister Genevieve.
LaMee urged his classmates to avoid being overly judgmental of others without being equally critical of yourself.
He quoted President George W. Bush, whom LaMee admitted he was often judged based on the former president’s worst examples.
“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions,” Bush once said.
“The way I judge myself in comparison to the way I judge other people is full of inconsistencies,” LaMee observed about himself. “I’m not logical in the way I justify myself and criticize others.”
Though admittedly not qualified to be a moral guide, LaMee offered a few words of advice for his fellow graduates.
“As a class, it would be an enormous achievement in itself if we could go into the world as thoughtful, self-aware and empathetic people who do not seek immediate satisfaction without considering the larger consequence, who do not judge themselves on intention and others on action,” he said.
The senior gift to the school was a table dedicated to the memory of Carrington and another former GSHS student who died before he could graduate, Johnny Gomez. The table will sit in the balcony above the main lobby in the schools as a workplace for students.