Peals of excitement and shouts from the crowd went up as friends and relatives cheered their favorite graduates Saturday at Moffat County High School.
"She's just so unbelievable," Traci Arbaney gush----ed about her daughter, graduate Nicole McIntyre. "Her education drives her. She doesn't settle for a B. She has to have an A."
McIntyre is one of four graduates who completed a two-year college associate degree while in high school. But plenty of students were recognized for high honors during the commencement ceremony.
Forty-seven students of the graduating class of 172 were recognized for earning scholarship awards. Total scholarship awards were $64,000 this year, school counselor Paula Duzik said.
Don White came to see his nephew, Dustin White, graduate. White, who earned a scholarship from the Craig Youth Soccer Association, is heading to University of Wyoming in Laramie in the fall to study pharmaceuticals.
Dustin's uncle said he was impressed by the amount of schoolwork that is required of high school students.
"There's a lot more homework and a lot more studying," Don said, compared to his years in high school. "I've seen some of his books and I don't even want to get through the third chapter."
Standing ovations from the packed gymnasium were frequent, but none so fervent as when 23 military veterans were recognized for their service. Some of those veterans served for American forces instead of finishing high school. Veterans Edward Kossar and Lyle Maxson received their diplomas posthumously on Saturday.
A roar of applause also went up for graduates, Hugo Quezada and Amelia Parker for earning award for male and female outstanding students. Quezada was described as a "soft-spoken," behind-the-scenes type of student who always got things done. Parker, a cross-country runner and actress in many of the school's plays, is known for her cheerful disposition.
"A tenderness is known and shown in her strong heart," said teacher Amy Coleman in announcing Parker's award. "She laughs as much as possible."
Graduates presented the school with a gift of an electronic message board.
Teachers Betty Wolgram and Chris Dralle were recognized for their long-term status, as both retired this year. Wolgram, an English teacher who taught at the school for 17 years, was unable to attend the event because she was competing in a horse race. Dralle has been with the school for 26 years and has taught world history, geography and served as the school's football coach.
Student speeches spanned topics of friendship and following dreams.
Student speaker Nicole Keen thanked parents and friends for their support during the years.
"You have given us all strength and support and fortitude to be successful in this complex world," Keen said in her speech. "This event is 12 years in the making is yours as well as ours. Congratulations to the Class of 2005. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life."