Speaker ‘could not be prouder’ of Rifle grads | PostIndependent.com

Speaker ‘could not be prouder’ of Rifle grads

Members of the Rifle High School class of 2017 toss their caps into the air during the closing of the commencement ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Despite ominous clouds overhead, the Rifle High School Class of 2017 graduated to a sea of smiling faces on Sunday. The only cover the former seniors needed to take was from emotional parents eager to embrace their new graduates.

“I remember being told about a group of students who were so bad they needed to hold a rope while walking to the lunch room,” said Kyle Mickelson in his commencement address. “Imagine if I had judged you then … I wouldn’t be standing here so proud of you today.”

Mickelson is a social studies teacher at RHS and has taught in the Re-2 district for 11 years, meeting many of the graduates along the way.

“I’m a better teacher and a better person by the time I spent with you,” he said.

Valedictorian Tayte Brown, who hopes to earn a computer engineering degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder, told his fellow classmates to thank the teachers who inspired them and to try to not dwell on past regrets.

“You can see how few pages are left till the end,” he said. “Do the thing that you have always wanted to do and try not to dwell on the things that you didn’t do.”

Nine students graduated candidates for International Baccalaureate diplomas, and more than 20 students graduated as members of the National Honor Society. Nearly 20 students earned an athletic letter each year they were at the high school, and an additional handful of students participated in drama or band.

Many of the students on the field on Sunday will move on to continue their education, either in-state or out, and the class received more than $300,000 in scholarship offers. Two students, Maxxwell Demann and Jordan Wright, received standing ovations from the crowd and their former classmates because they will join the military.

“I always wanted to teach high school, and your class helped me make the jump,” Mickelson told his former students. “Nothing against the other classes that I’ve done commencement speeches for, but this one’s different. I could not be prouder of this class.”

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