Bulldog grads look forward, remember the good times at Moffat County High School
A few steps across the stage coupled with an abundance of photos and all of a sudden the next phase of life was upon Moffat County High School seniors.
And, the Bulldogs were more than ready for it.
MCHS’s annual graduation ceremony Saturday served as a celebration of academic achievement and transition into adulthood as students accepted their diplomas and prepared for everything to come.
After an introduction by Principal Kyle York and welcome by graduate Sammi Beaver, an acknowledgment of scholarship recipients — including $61,000 from local sources — honor students and future military members was followed by presentation of the class gift — school spirit window decals — by salutatorian Olivia Neece and the presentation of Outstanding Senior Girl and Boy.
Social studies teacher Karen Chaney introduced the female recipient, noting her proclivity for living up to a banner in the MCHS commons that reads, “Change the World.”
“She is the true personification of this idea,” Chaney said. “She thinks deeply about issues in our school, our nation and our world, and she focuses on finding positive solutions to them.”
The honor was given to Neece, many cords around her gown, indicating theater, student council, band, speech and debate and more.
English instructor Keith Gille introduced the male student, whom he saw a great deal of during his time with the football and baseball teams, valedictorian and Lewis “Dude” Dent Memorial Award winner Colby Beckett.
“This Moffat County High School Bulldog is part of the heart and soul of our small-town ranching and mining community,” Gille said, also noting Beckett’s involvement in Future Farmers of America, 4-H shooting sports and other endeavors. “I can honestly say he is one of the most hardworking, most caring, most passionate people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Neece was shortly back at the podium to deliver the commencement address, speaking of the emotional end of senior year and the conclusion of what parents and teachers dub, “the best four years of our lives.”
“I challenge every one of you to prove every person that has told us that, that they are wrong. This is just the beginning,” she said.
After a performance by the MCHS choir came the distribution of diplomas, and for some Moffat County grads, the occasion almost didn’t happen.
Kasen Brennise strode into the gym that morning sporting a walking cast on his left foot and a large bandage on his chin, compliments of an accident less than 24 hours before at the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association state finals that also gave him a concussion.
Being able to attend the ceremony was iffy shortly after the incident, though Brennise said he wasn’t going to miss the rite of passage if he could help it, only a minor hitch in his gait thanks to the rope that snagged him by his ankle.
“It feels amazing being able to walk across the stage like that,” he said. “I’m really just glad to be finished with everything.”
With tassels turned, caps thrown and a raucous celebration once all was said and done, Beaver took the stage again for the class farewell, touching on shared memories good and bad.
“I ask you all to look at the peers sitting next to you and remember all the times that they have laughed with you, cried with you, supported you or simply smiled at you when you passed in the hallway because tonight might be the very last night with them,” she said. “Remember that each and every one of you has made an impact on each other’s lives.”
Outside on the school’s west lawn, graduates met with parents and pals to discuss their plans, both for the day and for, well, life.
Dylan Howlett said he plans to gain employment in Texas as a tire technician, though the shift won’t be without some sadness.
“I think I’ll most remember family and friends here,” he said.
Likewise, Kaylee Springer will be pursuing training in the veterinary field in Curtis, Nebraska, her time in high school extracurriculars a big factor in her career plans.
“I’ll most remember all those FFA trips,” she said, noting her gold placement at state in the program.
Other grads are still considering their options for the future.
Jaycee Holman said she’s currently focused on a summer job as a lifeguard at Craig Pool Complex, in the meantime thinking about what else may be down the road.
And, the way she sees it, there are plenty of possibilities.
“It’s all wide-open,” she said.
Moffat County’s Dinosaur National Monument has been given a designation that could attract planet-watchers and star-finders from around the world.