‘They go after it’
For the first time in nine years, Grand Valley High School held its graduation ceremony inside the school’s gymnasium, known as “The Nest,” due to construction on the football field outside.
Unlike last time, the temperature was a comfortable 63 degrees inside, negating any possibility of family and friends passing out due to the heat inside the gym.
“The last time we had this inside, we had people passing out left and right,” Grand Valley Principal Ryan Frink said. “So this year I told the maintenance guys to make sure it was a comfortable 63. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t be answering to me; we have a board member’s daughter and another board member’s granddaughter graduating today, so they’d have to answer,” Frink said, drawing laughs from the large crowd packed into the gym.
With 52 students parading into the gym around 10 a.m. Saturday to kick off the ceremony in black, red and gray robes, the Cardinals began their celebration of one of the best academic classes that has come through the Parachute school tucked along the Colorado River on Cardinal Way.
In all, the class of 52 has nine National Honors Society members and four ITS members in one of the smallest graduating classes since 2008, according to Frink.
“We have more scores of 30 or higher in the ACT with this class, which is more than any class that’s come through this school,” a proud Frink said. “This class is unique in that they have the ‘have and have-nots.’ There’s no middle ground with this class. If there’s something that they want, they go after it. They’ve done that consistently, and that shows in their grade point averages and tests scores.”
Before wrapping up his opening remarks, Frink talked about the number of students heading into college with 26 or more credits already under their belts, which has a direct correlation with the school’s AP program, which started during the freshman year of 2016’s graduating class. One of those students heading into college with a full year worth of credits is class historian Tanner Magee, who was also a standout on the basketball court on top of his academic achievements.
Magee will head to Colorado Mountain College with 26 college credits completed.
“Unlike other classes that were strong in athletics, we’re strong in academics; that’s our strength,” Magee said. “To do that, we needed a strong support system. Much like Kobe [Bryant] and Shaq [O’Neal] needed each other, we needed our teachers.”
Along with Magee, class salutatorian Gabrielle Coleman emphasized how important the staff at Grand Valley High was to the academic success of the graduating class, saying, “you sacrificed so much for us and pushed us each and every day. It’s been amazing to learn from you for the past four years.”
Before finally receiving their diplomas, class valedictorian Braeden Pasket kicked off his speech saying, “speeches are like steers. There’s a point hear and a point there, but the rest is mostly bull,” before speaking emotionally about what this small class means to him, talking about how this class was a family through and through.
“You’re all capable of what you know. Don’t live below your privileges,” Pasket said. “You’re all worth so much; I hope you don’t waste your talents.”
Commencement speaker Travis Porter, a high school teacher, assistant football and baseball coach, talked largely about not being dumb, while also focusing on work ethic moving forward once the students are out of the classroom.
“Pay attention, take notes, do your work and maybe study,” Porter said. “That thinking translates to all walks of life. Everything boils down to your work ethic. Are you willing to put the work in? From the looks of things, this class is willing to do that.”
With that, the students flipped their tassels from one side to the other, officially closing out their high school careers, setting them onto a path hopefully filled with even more success wherever they decide to go next in life.
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A long, event-filled list of recreational leagues and classes usually fills the Rifle Parks and Recreation Department’s winter calendar.