The Moffat County High School graduating class of 2009 stands Saturday during the ceremony.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

The Moffat County High School graduating class of 2009 stands Saturday during the ceremony.

Students tell classmates to be fearless in graduation speeches


Moffat County High School's graduation ceremony was all about movement.

The students filed into the school gymnasium Saturday in pairs, a girl in white and a boy in blue. Paparazzi parents snapped photos, and the crowd sent forth whoops and hollers for their favorite graduates.

The students tossed around beach balls, and the speakers talked about where the class of 2009 would go.

"I don't know everyone's plans," graduate Sarah Kirk said. "I imagine some will stay here, some will go to college, and some will move out of their parents' house immediately after the ceremony."

She encouraged her classmates to aim high.

"Never hit that roadblock," she said. "Never stop learning, and always live your life believing you can do something extraordinary."

The 139 students appear to have set their sights high.

They earned more than $64,000 in scholarships from the Craig community. Several are headed to the military, and they received a standing ovation from their classmates and the hundreds in the audience.

Fifteen were considered honor graduates for having a grade-point average of 3.939 or higher. Kylie Bauman, Cassandra Gore, Jessica Hogue, Samuel Leonard, Kirsten McAlexander, Challyn Pfifer and Erin Urbanoski earned valedictorian status. Andrew Field, Michelle Hammond and Alicia Nelson earned salutatorian status.

Nelson was named outstanding girl of the class of 2009, and Michael Zehner was named outstanding boy of the class.

Teacher Casey Kilpatrick praised Nelson for her passion, creativity and skill on the yearbook staff.

"I hope my daughter is just like this young woman and defines herself by what she does," he said.

Teacher Eric Hansen spoke about Zehner, whom he coached in debate.

"I know I will miss this outstanding student, amazing competitor and, most of all, friend," Hansen said.

During her commencement address, Noraly Cazares encouraged her fellow MCHS graduates to pursue adventures without fear.

"Within each of us is an explorer," Cazares told her friends.

She also spoke of the appreciation she had for her classmates the past four years.

"I am thankful for those memories that I know will always be there. : We all intertwine in each other's memories, like roots in the land," Cazares said.

Thom Schnellinger, Moffat County High School principal, took what he called his "10 seconds" to say goodbye to the class.

"To the graduates, Moffat County High School wishes you the best of luck in your future endeavors," Schnellinger said. "Go change the world."

The class of 2009 is a fun-loving group, he said after the white and blue hats flew and the Silly String came out.

"They're a very respectful bunch," he said. "They've worked really hard - $64,000 in scholarships speaks a lot about what they're capable of."

As Schnellinger praised them, Moffat County's graduates popped out the back doors of the gym, into the sunshine, bright-eyed and ready for their next steps.

The song that accompanied them was "Don't Stop Believing" by, appropriately, Journey.


Neal Harkner 7 years, 11 months ago

Congratulations to the class of 2009. 2 more years until my 20th anniversary of that very same rite of passage. I still remember some of that day's events as if it were only yesterday.


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