Moffat County High School sends off Class of 2015 with last hurrah Saturday |

Moffat County High School sends off Class of 2015 with last hurrah Saturday

Andy Bockelman
Moffat County High School's Class of 2015 throws their caps into the air following the commencement and distribution of diplomas Saturday in the MCHS gym. More than 100 students were part of this year's class.
Andy Bockelman

The pomp and circumstance sweeping the nation hit Northwest Colorado Saturday morning as Moffat County High School sent its Class of 2015 graduates out into the world after four memorable years.

With 102 seniors finishing their childhood education, this year’s ceremony included both traditional and novel features, one of which was paying tribute to a graduate whose presence was sorely missed.

Entering the lobby of MCHS, visitors were greeted with a bench constructed partly from the tailgate of a Ford pickup truck, a piece of auto equipment that had belonged to Tory Tovar, who passed away in December after a vehicle collision on US Highway 40.

Tory’s portrait sat next to the bench, and a special presentation of his diploma took place for his loved ones in advance of the proceedings. The bench was built by Tracer Hickman, Tristin Bailey, Chase Wagoner and Kaleb Bugay as a class welding project with sponsorship by NAPA Auto Parts, Yampa Valley Bank and Axis Steel. Graduates and spectators also wore blue ribbons to keep the teenager close to their hearts.

In his first outing overseeing the academic occasion as Moffat County principal, Kelly McCormick welcomed everyone, as did graduate and master of ceremonies Chris Kling, segueing to the Moffat County Honor Guard’s presentation of the American flag and the National Anthem.

Student Council President Tiffany Lingo presented the senior class gift — three Apple TV devices — as well as an introduction to the day.

Following acknowledgments of honor students and several students with military plans by McCormick, guidance counselor Paula Duzik informed the crowd that 2015 graduates had received more than $185,000 in scholarship funds for furthering their education, about $60,000 of which was given out on the local level, thanking the collective community for their support of students.

The announcement of Outstanding Senior Girl and Boy followed, this year’s selections being Aubrey Campbell and Calden Scranton.

Teacher Karen Chaney spoke of Campbell’s many achievements in high school, ranging from to cross country runner to national qualifier in Future Business Leaders of America to Homecoming Queen and Prom Queen.

“With her professionalism and poise, she will excel in the business world,” Chaney said.

Kristin O’Connor lauded Scranton for his work with student government, as well as a myriad other activities.

“He’s a student who seizes every opportunity, who enjoys every day, who is a constant inspiration to everyone he encounters, the consummate student — a joy to teach,” she said.

No sooner had Scranton left the stage to accept this honor than he hopped right back up to deliver the commencement address, musing on the shared experience of the hallowed halls of MCHS.

“We grew with love, grew to care for each other, building friendships, some lasting a lifetime and some, like our classmate, Tory, who is in our thoughts and hearts today, were taken away from us too soon,” he said.

A condensed ensemble of members of the choir program, including grads Kolton Nash and Deniqua Williams, sang the “Rent” tune “Seasons of Love” prior to graduates taking the stage, as approved by Moffat County School District Superintendent Brent Curtice and JB Chapman, school board president.

A jovial mood was apparent as anxious students took their sheepskins and turned their tassels with pride, a recurring mishap with graduate Riley Magruder’s cap garnering laughs from the audience.

For board of education members Darrell Camilletti and Tony Peroulis, the day was particularly special, as they each presented their own progeny with their diploma — Camilletti, his son, Joe, and Peroulis, his daughter, Katelyn.

“It’s a real privilege, I’m feeling very proud,” Tony said.

After McCormick gave the cue for the class to throw their caps in celebration, a farewell address by Cassidy Griffin gave her peers something to think about as they headed out the door with a quote from none other than Dr. Seuss — “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

As they gathered outside alongside their former classmates, Dakota Ahlstrom and Couri Blevins had a shared thought.

“Glad to be done,” they both laughed while glancing at their old school.

Neither are finished with higher education, though, Blevins headed to Western State Colorado University and Ahlstrom ready for nursing school at Laramie County Community College.

Keith Smith said he isn’t certain what his immediate future holds, likely taking classes at Colorado Northwestern Community College and going from there.

“It’s pretty exciting, overwhelming,” he said.

Out of all the memories of his time in school, Smith couldn’t pick just one thing that he’ll miss.

“All my friends, we’ve really bonded, all the band and football programs I’ve been a part of, it’s helped me grow as a person,” he said.

The sentiment hit Moffat County staff, too. The third MCHS graduation ceremony for science Evan Gaffney was also his last as he moves on to a new position across the state.

And, seeing his students grow up and transition has been a little tougher than he expected.

“This is a great senior class,” he said. “There’s always two or three in a group where they walk out and you think, ‘Oh, thank God, never again,’ but this is not that group. I will miss every one of these kids.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.