Principal Thom Schnellinger gives the senior class some last-minute advice and reminders about proper etiquette for their graduation ceremony Saturday before bringing the rehearsal to a close.

Andrea Tessler

Principal Thom Schnellinger gives the senior class some last-minute advice and reminders about proper etiquette for their graduation ceremony Saturday before bringing the rehearsal to a close.

For Class of 2013, graduation represents obstacles overcome

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Andrea Tessler

Members of the Moffat County High School class of 2013 wait to practice their graduation processional Friday morning.

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Andrea Tessler

Moffat County High School counselor Paula Duzik explains to the senior class the details of how they will enter and exit the MCHS gym for their graduation ceremony and helps organize the class alphabetically in two lines.

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Andrea Tessler

Moffat County High School was a hive of activity Friday during senior checkout as graduating seniors power-walked the halls collecting signatures from their second-semester teachers and various departments around the school. All of the required signatures must be present or else the student cannot pick up their cap and gown.

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Andrea Tessler

Ashlee Douglas, 18, delivers a speech inspired by Proverbs 11:21 during the 2013 Baccalaureate ceremony Wednesday night at Moffat County High School. She related the story of how she chose the right college for herself despite being torn between attending school in South Dakota with a close group of friends or following her dream of going to school in Tennessee. “I prayed about it and it was God that guided me to what college I should go to. I picked Tennessee,” Douglas said.

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Andrea Tessler

Kate Grobe addresses the audience at the 2013 Baccalaureate ceremony Wednesday night at Moffat County High School. “Now is the time to develop ownership of your life,” she said. “Read your Bible; it is the most important instruction manual ever written. Life is not always easy and sometimes it’s messy and our faith can be shaken. You have to say to yourself ‘This is my faith and I believe in it.’”

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Andrea Tessler

Frank Chacon, left, Brian Ivy and Marlee Chacon perform at the end of the 2013 Baccalaureate ceremony at Moffat County High School on Wednesday night. Audience members raised their arms in worship as the trio led the assembly in “Oh How He Loves.”

— Picture a group of 17- and 18-year-olds — excited but a little scared, confident but still uncertain, bubbling over with anticipation for what comes next. The cause is a classic source of stress, both good and bad, and it happens around the same time every year.

It’s time for graduation.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Moffat County High School’s Class of 2013 will make its transition from students to graduates, and despite the excitement about what the future holds for the departing senior class, graduation also is a time when people often contemplate the past and the steps taken in order to walk across the stage for their diplomas.

“There was definitely a time early in high school where I didn’t really care if I learned anything. I just wanted to pass my classes and get out of there,” senior Bow Richardson said this week. “I looked around Craig and saw all the tweakers and the drunks and everything and I said, ‘I’m better than that. I want to do things with my life.’”

Richardson decided it was time to make a change and devote more effort to his classes.

“Mr. (Lance) Scranton really was there for me. When you take his class you work hard but you actually learn something. He really cared about how I did and he really helped me. I still kind of felt like I was wasting my time at school, but then I just knuckled down and worked and now I’m so glad I did.”

Carli Winslow also stands behind the choices she made during her time at MCHS. Winslow graduated a semester early to get married last December, and she doesn’t regret a thing.

“I’d already done everything I needed to graduate and it was just time for my high school career to be over,” she explained. She is now pursuing a degree in photography, a path she attributes to her favorite teacher, Casey Kilpatrick.

“He’s the one who really got me into photography. He was always there to encourage me, and now it’s what I’m going to school for.”

While many graduates say they have no regrets, many also admit to being nervous about life after high school and the dramatic changes that are about to take place in their lives.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing next,” Robert Baker said as he pondered what his life will be like without the regimented routine of getting up, going to school and doing homework. “Change is just kind of scary. Being in the real world and having more responsibility. It kind of freaks me out because it’s not what I’m used to, but at the same time I’m ready for something different.”

“I’ve had these kids since they were freshmen,” said Krista Schenck, the Class of 2013’s adviser. “They were kind of a squirrelly group of kids and I’ve seen them grow up so much. I think we have a lot of great kids with good ideas about what they want. They all have their own goals, whatever direction they take.”

For Schenck, graduation is also a time to look back with pride at goals attained and obstacles overcome by her students.

“There were some kids who we weren’t sure they would make it, and to see them walk across the stage (at graduation) feels like we’ve really done our job. It feels like we’ve really had an influence in that.”

“We do work as closely as we can with the students to help them be able to graduate,” Principal Thom Schnellinger said. “This is a hard-working class and there are a number of standouts. Many of them are looking at schools out of state and that’s great. I know they will go out from here and be successful.”

The Class of 2013 earned an impressive total of $70,000 in local scholarships, providing a valuable stepping-stone as some of the new graduates prepare to attend schools like San Francisco University, WyoTech and Brigham Young University. Other graduates will gear up for military boot camp, begin vocational training or earn their associate degree.

“Watching them grow as people, that’s the high school experience,” Schnellinger said. “I think that’s part of the wonder of this work, that they come to us as adolescents and leave as young adults making some really mature decisions.”

Schnellinger also stressed that some of the most important lessons graduates take away from their time at Moffat County High School are not taught in a classroom.

“We really want to prepare these kids not just for college, but for life,” he said. “One of the things I’ve been hung up on as a principal is getting through adversity. I work to help them foster a belief system that will serve these kids for the rest of their lives and help them get through hard times. Adversity happens, but I want to show we don’t crumble but move through it instead. Just rise up. It’ll be hard, but just be yourself.”

For the past four years, Schnellinger has given a small reminder of that advice to each student as they cross the stage at graduation — the poem “Anyway” by an unknown author.

“I think it’s an important thing for kids to learn,” he said. “I hope it resonates with somebody.”

"Anyway," author unknown

"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be frank and honest anyway.

People favor the underdogs but will follow only top dogs.

Fight for some underdogs anyway.

People may need help, but may attack you if you help them.

Help people anyway.

What you spend your years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.

Give the world the best you have anyway."

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