From above, it looked as if the common room at Moffat County High School was inhabited by a bright blue snake made of square mortarboard scales.
Two lines of cap and gown-clad members of MCHS’s Class of 2013 stood waiting to enter the gymnasium and mark the end of their 12-year journey of public school education. As the processional began, the students were silent and somewhat somber as they began their walks, two by two, down the center aisle in the gym to seats they would leave as high school students and return to as graduates.
Senior class president Rose Howe received special recognition as the female class representative during a presentation by teachers Heather Fross and Lauren Kartus.
“She’s brilliant. I mean, really brilliant,” Fross said as she introduced Howe.
The 4.0 GPA student, who received 12 awards and recognitions at this year’s MCHS academic awards ceremony Tuesday, also was awarded 10 scholarships and graduated with valedictorian status. She plans to study environmental policy in college.
Earlier in the ceremony, Jacob Teeter was recognized for his prestigious appointment to West Point Military Academy. Teeter is one of only 1,200 students across the country each year who earn an appointment to West Point.
Matt Hulstine seemed caught up in the moment as he gazed out over his peers and the overflowing crowd cheering in the bleachers. Hulstine, who won four academic awards including Excellence in College Physics and the Scientific Achievement Award, was recognized as the male class representative.
“He’s a constant reminder of why I love teaching,” Kartus said before calling Hulstine to the stage.
Matthew Balderston spoke confidently from behind the podium as he delivered a commencement speech that illustrated true optimism about what the future holds for the Class of 2013, and sincere appreciation for the 1,006,800 minutes of school that brought them all to the moment of graduation.
“You have a few more minutes to go before you’re graduates,” said Superintendent Dr. Joe Petrone as he presented the Class of 2013 to the Board of Education, which formally approved of and certified the graduation.
When it came time for the Class of 2013 to receive their diplomas, each student paused for just a moment in deference to tradition. As he prepared to leave the stage, diploma in hand, Zachary Beauchamp performed the turning of the tassel, moving it from one side of his cap to the other to symbolize his transformation from student to graduate.
Moments before walking to receive her diploma, Tiffany Schulze wrung her hands nervously and glanced around the packed gym. In an informal poll of 20 random students, 18 said falling on stage was their biggest fear for the ceremony.
As Jason Soos stepped forward to cross the stage, the entire assembly exploded into almost deafening cheers, applause and a few joyful tears. Arms outstretched, Soos approached a beaming Principal Thom Schnellinger to receive his diploma and stood for a minute gazing at it, a massive smile on his face.
As the ceremony drew to a close, fingers began creeping toward cap brims in anticipation. As the pronouncement of graduation was given, the Class of 2013 erupted into celebratory chaos, personifying their class motto: “Remember yesterday, dream for tomorrow, live for today.”