MEEKER I After heavy rains all night, Meeker awoke on Saturday to clear and sunny skies. The break in the rain allowed the 38 members of the Meeker High School Class of 2015, their families and friends, high school faculty, administration representatives and junior class “Daisy Chain” escorts to gather at Starbuck Stadium for the 108th MHS Commencement.
The Grand Entrance began to the high school band, missing its seniors, with Jeff Hemingson conducting “Gates of Lodore” and “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Principal Kim Ibach welcomed all and introduced salutatorians Sydney Hughes and Jamie McLaughlin to the podium. A salutatorian is usually a student ranking second highest in the class who is asked to give the commencement salutation—a polite expression of greeting and good will. Hughes and McLaughlin tied for the second highest ranking grade point average and, therefore, shared the duty. They tickled the crowd by referring to themselves as “first losers,” and then proceeded to surprise Dr. Bob Dorsett, who came to the podium at their request, giving him a special award of a signed Class of 2015 photo, saying he had shown them “survival of the fittest,” taught them about the universe, the world and nature.
“You’re the man,” they said, and he received a standing ovation initiated by the seniors as he raised the photo to them. The salutatorians also spoke to the crowd saying this ceremony is really about them, the parents, the families, the friends, for being what had brought the seniors to this accomplishment.
Seniors McKenna Kummer and Sam Baylie, joined by junior Leah Bykerk-Pool, sang “I Was There.” Class President Brittany Smith then introduced language arts teacher Kathleen Kelley, chosen by the seniors to give the commencement address.
Kelley gave each senior a journal and cited local history to inspire the seniors to “write their own history books,” following the examples of John Wesley Powell, Theodore Roosevelt and Arthur Carhart, all of whom spent meaningful time here and had a significant impact on national public lands conservation and management because of their experiences in Rio Blanco County.
Kelley, however, also cautioned seniors to make history “the right way” and not follow the examples of the bank robbers buried at Highland Cemetery. She joked that “judging by the number of seniors who sported guns in their senior pictures” it was unlikely Meeker would ever have a successful bank robbery. This would be especially true if the class lived up to its motto of “The world isn’t ending, we are just taking over.”
Kelley concluded by reminding seniors that the writing rules she had given them over the years were also great rules to live by – “No guts, no story,” and “Show, don’t tell.”
Her final statement came from Evel Knievel, in Spanish, as she had learned it from her Meeker High School Spanish teacher, “Si es possible se hace; si no es possible, se hara’.” (If it is possible it is done. If it is impossible, it will be done.)
Community-based scholarships were recognized by high school counselor and commencement moderator Amy Chinn with several presented by specific scholarship representatives. These local scholarships, the presenters and the recipients were as follows: Coach Bob Tucker by Amy Chinn to Jake Phelan; Fred and Annie Burke Memorial by Clinton Burke to Kiana George; and the Pat Johnson Memorial to Katelyn Atchley.; Richard G. Lyttle Memorial by Leif Joy to Lilian Munn; VFW Post 5843 and Ladies Auxiliary by Vicki Crawford and Rob Baughman to Tristan Pelloni and Andrea Urista; James Sizemore Memorial by Kathy Sizemore and Abby Sizemore Welle to Katelyn Atchley and Raul Lopez; Johnny Wix Aspiring Artist by John Wix and Ben Quinn to Paige Jones; W.C. Striegel by Eric Striegel for CNCC books to Paige Dowker and Rosaleina Ochoa, and for engineering to Cade Rowlett; Lions Club by Vicki Crawford to Brittany Smith, Jamie McLaughlin, Linda Olivas, Paige Jones and Joe Newman, and the Lions Club Colorado Grand to Lilian Munn; and Masonic Lodge #80 by Chuck Mills, Michael Que and Kevin Amack to Michael Beck, Megan Parker, Andrea Urista, Dominique Devore and Paige Dowker, and the Colorado Masons Benevolent Fund to Lilian Munn.
Chinn also recognized Logan Kinnamon and Amber Holding for their enlistment in the U.S. Army and Ruben Roybal in the U.S. Navy. They were given a standing ovation by the crowd.
Other scholarships and the graduates’ post-graduate destinations were mentioned by Chinn as each graduate received their diploma, with their names being read by social studies teacher and coach Klark Kindler.
School board members Bud Ridings and Todd Shults presented the diplomas. Other board members on the dais with the faculty and scholarship presenters were Marnell Bradfield, Kurt Blunt, and Bill deVergie.
Chinn credited and thanked the community for 2015 scholarship support totaling $144,260. Added together with money received from the colleges and universities they will attend, Chinn said the Class of 2015 will receive more than $377,000.
Chinn also mentioned that members of the class had earned 964 dual enrollment CNCC course credits, which will save their Meeker families well in excess of $120,000.
Following presentation of the local scholarships, the students carried forth a long-standing Meeker tradition, going into the crowd with flowers to present to their parents and families in appreciation of their years of support. This rite was accompanied by the recorded class songs, “On My Way” by Phil Collins and “Sound of Change” by Dirty Heads.
The valedictorian in commencement exercises is usually the student with the highest scholastic standing who is asked to give a bidding farewell. As with the salutatorians, the Class of 2015 had two tie for the honor: Brittany Smith and Reagan Pearce. Smith and Pearce urged their classmates to remember that one’s destiny develops through life, it doesn’t occur overnight, but neither does life pause for us. We’re at the cusp of something new and something big—growth!
Progress is never easy, they said, and they urged their classmates not to let trivial setbacks be setbacks, not to let them stop progress.
Following their farewell remarks, the valedictorians, in another Meeker tradition, passed their mantles to the student with the highest scholastic standing in the junior class, Faith Patterson humbly accepted, wishing the graduates the very best.
Smith, Pearce and Marcus Archuleta then led the new graduates in the turning of their tassels. Dr. Ibach gave closing remarks, also wishing the graduates well and reminding them, through the story of the “Velveteen Rabbit” (a popular children’s novel written by Margery Williams, first published in 1922) that life is best lived by becoming real.
Thirty out of the 38 Meeker graduates have immediate plans for college, three are enlisting in the military, two are moving with their families to other states, and three are transitioning into the workforce.
Colleges the graduates plan to attend include Colorado Northwestern Community College (6), Colorado Mesa University (4), Colorado State University (3), University of Colorado-Denver (2), Arapahoe Community College, Wayne State College, Cloud County Community College, University of Northern Colorado, Syracuse University, Western State Colorado University, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Montana, Front Range Community College, Laramie County Community College, the University of Mississippi, the University of Wyoming, Black Hills State University and Regis University.
In addition to Smith as president, Class of 2015 officers have been Sydney Hughes as vice president, Lily Munn as secretary and Dom Devore as treasurer.
The class colors were black and gold and their flower the sunflower.
Language arts teacher Cheri Robinson has been their class sponsor.