Roaring Fork High School’s ‘sinking seniors’ celebrate graduation |

Roaring Fork High School’s ‘sinking seniors’ celebrate graduation

Megan Webber
Post Independent intern
Lindsy Vega Munoz gets ready with her classmates as the class of 2018 at Roaring Fork High School prepares to walk during Saturday's commencement exercises in Carbondale.
Kyle Mills

Roaring Fork High School Class of 2018 Vice President Kajsa Sutro took the stage just before the graduates walked to receive their diplomas. She took the opportunity to issue a formal apology to the community on behalf of her class for being the so-called “worst class ever.” When the class entered high school, it was with a reputation of not working well together.

“I believe most are calling us ‘the sinking seniors,” said Sutro. “I thought it might be appropriate to take this moment, having all of our friends and loved ones present, to deliver a formal apology on behalf of the sinking seniors.”

She gave shout-outs to the RFHS teachers who have battled the class since freshman year, the Carbondale Police Department, the parents of the class of 2018 and her fellow graduates.

“But truly we are an interesting class, there is no doubt about it. We couldn’t have done it without the love, help and support from all of you. We couldn’t have made it this far without all of us,” she said.

This year’s commencement speech was given by Hadley Hentschel, who has taught science at RFHS for the past 14 years. He came prepared with snacks, which he threw into the crowd of seniors in case they hadn’t eaten breakfast, a cowbell and visual aids to give one last lecture to the class of 2018. Jokes and props aside, he had no shortage of advice for the seniors.

Using the metaphor of a tree which has grown, endured droughts and lost limbs, he emphasized the roots of a tree which connect it to countless other plants, a vital part of a community. He compared the graduating class to a tree whose energy has fueled the school and community forward and managed to sustain life around it.

“I challenge each and every one of you to take charge of your life’s script. Be the owners of where your life is headed,” he said.

Class President Chelsey Serrano, National Honors Society member Zoe Hanlon and Valedictorian Vanessa Montoya were all honored as outstanding students and spoke during the ceremony.

Serrano reflected on the hardships of her junior year, when she found joy in the time she spent with her friends and fellow classmates at school over all else.

Hanlon remembered a piece of advice her father gave her, which was, “One impossible thing at a time.”

Montoya spoke about the fun she strives to have every day, and her advice to her class was, “Encourage yourself to live happily.”

As well as sending off their seniors, RFHS will also say goodbye to Vice Principal Kelsie Goodman, who moves home to Iowa, and long-time band director Mark Gray.

“I always say that it’s our most important and our shortest concert of the year, because it lasts about seven minutes, and that’s just cause I throw an extra piece in there that everybody seems to hate,” Gray said.

He said the concert is important for the band and the whole school, because it is their time to honor the seniors and celebrate their achievements.

RFHS sent off 71 sinking seniors this year, and among them was Knoll Featherstone. Featherstone is the final of four brothers to graduate from RFHS since 2015.

“We sunk, the ship is already gone under the water, but we made it. We swam back to shore,” he said.

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