Moffat County grads on to the next big adventure after commencement
As she left the stage adjusting her tassel from one side to the other, Moffat County High School graduate Brenna Herndon had a hard time keeping the tears out of her eyes.
“It was just a long journey, just a lot,” Herndon said.
The emotions were high, as was the sense of festivity during Saturday’s commencement for the Class of 2022 as family, friends and community members sent off the 104 graduates.
Following the presentation of $80,000 worth of scholarships for students heading into the next stage of education, plus the acknowledgment of honor students and those committed for military service, student body president Tanner Zimmerman presented the class gift — a new collection of furniture for the school commons area.
“It definitely went a lot easier than at practice,” laughed Tanner, who also later gave the commencement address.
MCHS teachers Cassia McDiffett and Sharon Skwarek presented the Outstanding Senior Boy and Girl awards, going to Logan Hafey and Emma Jones, respectively.
Hafey also earned the Dude Dent Memorial Award, held salutatorian status and finished the class artwork for the ceremony. McDiffett likened him to a spice.
“He’s essential to our culture, his leadership is subtle, and he has a way of making good things great,” she said. “He’s the salt of Moffat County High School. He’s been essential to our school, and when he’s not here next year, we’re going to notice.”
Skwarek spoke of Jones, who gave the welcoming remarks for the morning, and mentioned several stories multiple teachers had given recalling Jones’ character, including that of an 8-year-old Girl Scout a decade earlier hoping to help a traveling musician at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
Skwarek said that spirit is no less part of Jones’ personality today.
“She has also impressed me with her generosity, her kindness and her willingness to help others,” she said. “She goes out of her way to make others feel included.”
As diplomas were handed out, bursts of confetti from proud family members punctuated the proceedings, along with some heavily decorated mortarboards.
With personal flair ranging from flowers and flags to quotes and more on her classmates’ headgear, JasLun Langlois sported an elaborate Western design with her name above a cactus.
“My sister made it. She has a leather business,” Langlois said. “I’m so excited — glad to be done.”
Once graduates were back in their seats, diplomas in hand, the caps went flying in celebration.
Halle Hamilton provided the farewell to the group before they marched out of the gym to the class song, “Fireflies,” by Owl City.
“Coming from a girl who loves to run, we must not walk but sprint toward what lies ahead,” Hamilton said. “Whether your future plan is to become a lawyer, pilot, astronomer, nurse, teacher, lineman, soldier, or another career, I know that each of us can change the world.”
After the ceremony, the lawns were full of graduates and guests gathering for photos. Brothers Tanner and Tucker Zimmerman were amid the throngs with their family members.
Like many of their fellow grads, the two were draped in decorative honors, with Tanner wearing the National Honor Society white collar and Tucker the FFA gold sash.
For Tucker, learning some key tools of the trade and representing FFA at state will play into his near future.
“I’m going into the mechanic field, go straight into the workforce,” he said.
As he and his sibling head onto separate paths, he’s been anticipating the new stage of life.
“It’ll definitely be a change, but it had to happen at some point,” Tucker said.
Tanner noted he’ll miss the dynamic of student council.
Tanner will attend University of Nebraska at Kearney to study aviation and pursue a career as an aerial firefighter.
“I don’t really have any expectations, just hope everything turns out good and work with what I’ve got,” Tanner said.
Reese Weber is also heading for the Midwest, specifically studying cosmetology in Wichita, Kansas. Ultimately she plans to open her own salon, though she knows it will be quite a few steps in the meantime.
“It’s probably a ways down the line. I have to go to school of course first, then build a clientele and gain experience in another salon, and then maybe after I do all that I’ll open my own,” Weber said. “I kind of liked the bigger city and more opportunity, so I thought that would be a good fit. I’ll miss the small-town feel, but I do want to meet new people.”
For Taran Teeter, his plans are to remain in Craig for about a year, possibly working as a substitute teacher locally, before going abroad for school.
“I’m looking into central Europe, like Germany, Austria, Czech, those areas, or Greece,” he said.
As much as he was looking forward to graduation, Teeter said the events Saturday didn’t faze him much.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, especially since we had a week off of school before this, so it felt like we were already done,” he said. “Last year when I was a junior escort, I felt like I had a while to go, but it came so quick.”
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