RANGELY I “Commencement” is defined as “the beginning,” and there were 29 members of the Rangely High School Class of 2015 who were anxious Sunday to reach that point of graduation and commence with the rest of their lives.
Some could define that time as arriving in the “real world.”
On Sunday afternoon at the Rangely High School auditorium, members of the Class of 2015 received their diplomas among some great moments when laughter, tears, hugs, kisses and flowers were shared among the students, their families, their loved ones and their fellow classmates.
Simone Heinle led the Pledge of Allegiance after the class members made their procession from the back to in front of the stage, where Rangely School Superintendent Matt Scoggins, RHS Principal Dr. K.D. Bryant, RHS Vice Principal Crandal Mergelman and Commencement Speaker Alan Ducey were seated. The invocation was given by senior Desiree Coombs and the welcomes were given by Principal Bryant and 2015 Class President Courtney Christiansen.
Christiansen spoke of what he learned during his years in school.
“I found out that it was kind of scary to grow up, that I wasn’t perfect and discovered that I don’t know everything,” he said.
“I know we had fun, I will never forget the members of my class, and if I do I will have my yearbook,” he said.
Next, Salutatorian Mitchell Webber offered his sage advice to the class.
He started by thanking his family, the faculty, his parents and his classmates and pointing out that indeed graduation day is a special day.
“Today we celebrate the accomplishments of the past and realize the potential for the future,” he said. “I am convinced that we can do anything we set our sights upon.
“The decisions you make to quit or to work through problems show signs of the future,” Webber said. “Not everything is going to be easy. Just find what it is that you love and work toward being the best you can be at what it is you love.
“Live life with passion,” he said. “And when you reach each goal go ahead and set new goals.”
He also thanked the staff and the students’ parents for pushing the students on to succeed.
“All I do, I do for God, and I want to show my family,” he said. “Hard work is one of the most important disciplines, and remember to not give up.
“Always be respectful,” he said before telling his classmates that he will miss them.
Valedictorian Ethan Allred was the next speaker, telling the class that this is the time to celebrate the start of the rest of their lives.
Allred, who was injured early in the past football season for the Panthers, spoke of when he planted his foot to make a tackle and heard a big snap. He said the coaches rushed in and that he and they knew it was bad. He said that when he took off his shoulder pads, he knew the ankle was broken and he spoke of his memories being loaded into the ambulance.
He knew he was going to have a tough time ahead, he said. He missed not playing football and also knew he faced extensive physical therapy to get that ankle back.
“I didn’t like the physical therapy, but I knew I had to work hard,” he said. “I learned to never give up and it helped me realize that it is through hard work that we get so much done.
“I learned to never give up and I realized that how you deal with problems is what determines your character.”
Commencement speaker Alan Ducey reminded the students that this is the day to realize that there are lots of things to think about.
“If you think your are beaten, you are,” he said. “If you believe in failure, it will happen. But if you think you can, you will. Be sure of yourself.
“Sooner or later,” he said, “the winner is the person who thinks he can.”
He advised the students to go to work with the right attitude.
“Dress for it, show respect, don’t just stand there with your arms crossed or your hands in your pockets,” Ducey told the class.
“There are always opportunities there; doors of opportunities in front of you,” he said. “You will need to enter those doors and I hope you do.
“If you find a door that isn’t what you want, keep looking until you find the door that fits you, “Ducey said. “Never fear the mountains in the distance.
“And I hope you dance when you look for those doors of opportunity,” he said.
He also introduced Kim Filner, who sang the song, “I Hope You Dance.”
After a strong ovation for Ducey, two of the seniors were introduced for their plans to enter the military after graduation. RHS Counselor Dixie Fielder introduced Courtney Christiansen, who will be entering the U.S. Army and James Scoggins, who will be entering the U.S. Navy.
Some of the top class scholars were also recognized, including Zack Glasgow, who scored a 25 on his ACT, and was tied as the senior with the most college credits. He also maintained a 3.0 average at RHS and will be going to Colorado Northwestern Community College, where he will pursue a degree in marine/wildlife, and Colt Allred, who tied with Glasgow with an ACT score of 25. He will be attending Adams State and be active in rodeo and track.
Manuel Madrid was next highest in the class with an ACT (science) score of 26, and with an a grade point average of 3.8, he will be pursuing a degree in petroleum engineering.
Ethan Allred was highest in the class with an ACT (math) score of 27, he had the highest composite score of 26, and was class valedictorian with a GPA of 4.0.
A couple of the scholarships presented Sunday include: The Julius and LeNell Pool Scholarship for $1,000 a year for four years to Mitchell Webber and two other scholarships to CNCC, one to Robert Dunker for $1,000 plus room and board for $6,000 and $2,000 to Dawn Stephens plus $6,000 for room and board.
Dawn Stephens also received a $3,000 Masons scholarship to pursue an education in Colorado and Rangely Elks Club Scholarships of $200 were presented to Jessica Tolley, Simone Heinle, Jason VandenBrink, Dawn Stephens, Mitchell Webber and Stephanie Tuck.
Presented by Audrey Hogan, the Chapman Family Scholarship was awarded to a four-year college or university and presented to Mitchell Webber; and the W.C. Striegel scholarships were awarded to Manuel Madrid for $16,000 as well as to Dawn Stephens and Robert Dunker.
The Allied Health scholarships from Rangely District Hospital for $1,000 were presented to Simone Heinle and Mitchell Webber.
Sam Tolley presented two scholarships, the Frank Huitt Scholarship to Tolley’s niece, Jessica, for $1,200 and the Tolley Family Scholarship for $1,500 a year for four years to Mitchell Webber.
The Teacher of the Year award, which was voted on by the students, went to Pat Walsh, and also honored were retirees Maryann Allred, Jean Kenney, Pam Brady and Paula Miller.
After the presentation of diplomas to the Class of 2015 graduates, the moving of the tassel was led by Christiansen and the recessional was the class song, “18 Years.”