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What feels like the end is often the beginning

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Gilpin H.S. holds commencement exercises

by Patty Unruh

Members of Gilpin High School’s Class of 2018 arrived at the culmination of their high school careers last Saturday, May 19, at 11:00 a.m. during commencement exercises in a filled-to-capacity auditorium.

As is customary, the audience rose to honor the seniors during the opening strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” and remained standing as the young men and women proceeded down the aisle to take their places on the stage.

Students, secondary school staff, the Gilpin County Board of Education, parents, and other guests placed hands on hearts for the performance of the “National Anthem” by senior Lauryn Parkhurst.

All were seated as Secondary Principal Alexis Donaldson gave a welcome. Superintendent David MacKenzie then recognized past alumni from 1969 through 2017, noting that Gilpin School had come a long way from its’ one-room schoolhouse beginnings.

Senior Aspen Nadeau introduced the commencement speaker, Gilpin County Judge David Taylor. In keeping with the class motto, “What feels like the end is often the beginning,” Taylor addressed the students on the conclusion of their high school education and encouraged them to look ahead to what is in store.

First, he had good news: “You no longer have to read books or do math!”

However, he advised them not to treat this as the end of their education. “You have a license to learn and the keys to open the door. Knowledge is power. The more you learn, the more you shape the world around you. Let the world be your classroom.”

Taylor urged the young people to take action, to follow up on their interests and opportunities rather than passively letting life happen to them. He also advised them to accept that they will make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

“If you find you’re on the wrong road, turn around,” he said. “Do right for the sake of doing right.”

He counseled the seniors to look around them at their parents and teachers. “These are the people who shaped you into who you are today. Don’t forget your community, and never forget where you came from.”

Taylor concluded with the poem, “Advice from a Tree.”

“Stand tall and proud. Go out on a limb. Remember your roots. Drink plenty of water. Be content with your natural beauty. Enjoy the view.”

Following the judge’s comments, senior Cicely Lepro presented the senior class gift, and salutatorian Katelyn Armstrong and valedictorian Josh Trujillo spoke to the crowd.

“Ready or not, it’s time to put out into the world,” Armstrong said. “What are we waiting for? Inspiration, time, money? Do the trip, take the job, or whatever you’ve always wanted to do. Just do it. There is no failure, just an opportunity to learn. Take charge of your life. Choose your path. What are we waiting for, Class of 2018!”

Valedictorian Trujillo was in his position due to having the highest grade point average in the class. But he realized a truth. “Soon enough, no one cares who got the highest score. We’ll be in the real world, and it will be time to actually do something with our lives. The future is uncertain, but it’s our chance to be kings and queens of a new world. Those who go for it all won’t have it easy. Follow your dream!”

Kim Cobb, school counselor, announced scholarship recipients. All told, the Class of 2018 earned $456,158 in financial awards. For a complete listing, please see the article on scholarship awards in this issue of the Weekly Register-Call.

Senior Carly Johnson called for her classmates to observe the traditional time for recognizing special people with gladiolas, the class flower. As the tunes “Dirt” by Florida Georgia Line and “I Lived” by One Republic played, the seniors presented the white blooms to smiling but teary-eyed parents, grandparents, teachers, and other dear folks who had helped them succeed.

This was followed by the senior slide show, a montage of photos from early school years to the present.

Craig Holmes, President of the Gilpin Board of Education, presented the diplomas. As Principal Donaldson called each name, the graduate strode proudly across the stage to receive that long-awaited document and pose for photos. School board members bestowed hugs and handshakes. Two of the board members, Kersten Armstrong and Steve Boulter, had children who were graduating – Katelyn and Austin.

The 2018 graduates were Katelyn Armstrong, Jack Ball, Faith Bloom, Austin Boulter, Devyn Braning, Christopher Burtschi, Aspen Cowles, Moises Espinosa, Alexis Finlayson, Tristan Froio, Manuel Gomez, John Immordino, Carly Johnson, Cicely Lepro, Alexandra Martin, Aspen Nadeau, Lauryn Parkhurst, Lilia Silverman, Conner Smith, Trystin Swan, and Joshua Trujillo.

Jack Ball was unable to attend, because he was competing in the state track meet at the same time as the graduation.

The ceremony climaxed with the presentation of the graduates. Tassels were moved from the right to the left on the mortarboards. The Class of 2018 was introduced. Caps flew into the air exultantly. Everyone cheered.

It’s not the end of the story. For this year’s Gilpin graduates, it’s a new chapter – time to say “yes” to new adventures!

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