West Grand students focus on past, future during commencement ceremony
For the Sky-Hi News
“And let the evidence show, the future’s so bright,
It’s never been more, not like tonight,
We walk into the glow, right into the light,
The past all around us, the time of our life.”
- From Never Forget You by Lupe Fiasco, 2014 West Grand Senior Class Song
KREMMLING — A group of 32 beaming students received their high school diplomas on Saturday, May 24, at West Grand High School. The young female graduates wore purple gowns and caps – some caps adorned with glitter messages, crystals and flower leis. The males wore gold — with the class treasurer Dustin Sanchez sporting multi-colored lights on his cap. Gold roses were provided for each graduate to honor the women in the audience who had come to celebrate this special day with them.
The graduation ceremony gave a nod to the Memorial Day holiday, with class president Anna Cunico opening the commencement by asking all military present — active and retired — to stand up. This brought forth loud, appreciative applause from the crowd. She then asked for a moment of silence to honor fallen soldiers.
Cody Volt, the 2014 valedictorian, commented that much of the West Grand Class of 2014 had been together since preschool. “It seems like just yesterday we were freshmen, figuring out how to open our combination lockers. Now we are seniors, getting ready to depart after 13 years in West Grand School District.”
Volt reminisced about dissecting pigs together, field trips to Henderson Mill and learning about the Bill of Rights. He will attend Colorado State University this fall to pursue a degree in civil/water engineering, and hopefully move his career back to the mountains so he can ski. His favorite memories of his four years of high school were playing sports — basketball and track and field.
When asked to describe his class in three words, class salutatorian Nicholas Ritschard chose outgoing, risky and competitive. “We’re not afraid to take things to the next level — academically or physically.”
Ritschard plans to work on his family’s ranch east of Kremmling this summer, and then attend CSU in the fall to pursue a civil engineering degree with a focus on water. “I want to have a positive impact on the ag industry in Grand County,” he said.
Both Volt and Ritschard’s favorite teacher at West Grand High was math and science teacher Mike Wilson, who gave the commencement address. Wilson has taught at the high school for 39 years, but he will remember the class of 2014 as one with some very strong opinions.
“Every discussion was split 50-50, but somehow this is the class that has decided that they can agree to disagree. At my very first meeting with this class, we had only two tasks: to elect a president and plan a bonfire.” The vote ended up tied 24-24, and one student asked why they couldn’t have both nominees as president. The class decided to have two presidents, and “the course was set. Compromise with respect will get things done.”
A comprehensive slide show preceded the awarding of diplomas by West Grand School District resigning superintendent Terry Vanderpan, and West Grand Board of Education President Dean Billington. he slide show lasted a half-hour, with hundreds of images garnered over the years beginning in diapers and ending with senior year memories.
There was one portion especially devoted to each graduate, accompanied by the song of his/her choice. The songs ranged from old-fashion country to pop and hip-hop, which seemed to be the theme of the day — that old-fashion traditions and new techno trends can coexist within the Class of 2014.
Cunico ended her closing remarks with a request that her class join her at the podium for a “selfie” (the new word of the year) — a photograph taken by a cell phone that includes the photographer.
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Saturday is Grand County National Public Lands Day and, along with projects, the community is invited to celebrate with a picnic in the park.