2015 graduates of Yampa Valley High School celebrate their accomplishments | SteamboatToday.com

2015 graduates of Yampa Valley High School celebrate their accomplishments

— If only one word sums up the Yampa Valley High School Class of 2015, that word is “grit.”

It's a word defined as "firmness of character and indomitable spirit," and these eight students were described by their teachers as having the resilience, courage and endurance to reach their goals.

"All of these students have worked incredibly hard to get here," said YVHS lead teacher Chuck Rosemond after Friday afternoon’s graduation ceremony. "I think for every one of them there was some point in their high-school career there was that doubt if they were gonna make it or not. But the fact that they did is really a testament to their commitment."

With only 28 students maximum for most teachers at YVHS, Rosemond said faculty had an opportunity to watch these students grow throughout their four years in high school.

"It just (shows) that this class in particular just really showed that determination, that work ethic to get them here," Rosemond said. "I feel really confident in graduating these students and knowing that they will go out there and be successful."

This high school is unique in that, as an alternative school operated by the Steamboat Springs School District, it seeks students who need an alternative learning environment to better meet their personal and educational goals.

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At Friday's commencement, held in Library Hall, teachers, families and friends gathered to celebrate graduating seniors Amber Burns, Alejandra Gonzalez Padilla, Malorie Holmes, Jose Jimenez, Austin Johnson, Dylan Rice, Brian Riddell and Destiny Wagner.

During the 45-minute ceremony, Kristin Bantle, school resource officer, gave the address to the class of 2015. Coming to the podium wearing a hoodie, she made a point to the students that it's easy to judge "a book by its cover."

"Diversity," she said as the hoodie came off to reveal her police uniform, "helps make us stronger."

Throughout her speech, Bantle conveyed a strong message to students: Do not perpetuate stereotypes, even though they may seem easier at the time. She also advised graduates to break down barriers and continue to forge new friendships and trust in their own intuition.

"I hope you take a stand for what you believe in," Bantle said in closing.

Prior to each student receiving his or her diploma, teachers Anna Becker Jacobs, Molly Lotz, Sarah Sanders and Rosemond presented sentimental memories and recognition for how far each has come.

Other speakers included Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks, Yampa Valley High School Principal Marty Lamansky and Steamboat Springs Board of Education Vice President Joey Andrews.

"We've turned our cants into can and our dreams into plans," said Wagner during her speech to fellow classmates. "Thank you to all of our teachers who have supported and challenged us. This is a school I am proud to say I am graduating from."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1