Mortarboards start flying Thursday

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Seniors at four of Routt County's five schools will be stepping up to the platform and stepping down to a new stage of their lives this weekend. Graduation ceremonies for the Hayden, Lowell Whiteman, Soroco and Christian Heritage high schools begin Thursday and continue through Sunday. Steamboat Springs High School's graduation ceremony is still more than a week off, set for 2 p.m., June 3. The gowns and diplomas are ready, but they are only a small part of the pomp and circumstance planned for this weekend.


HAYDEN HIGH SCHOOL

Four Routt County high schools will hold their graduation ceremonies this weekend: * Hayden High School: 8 p.m. Thursday, in the school gymnasium * Lowell Whiteman School: 10 a.m. Saturday, at the school * Soroco High School: 4 p.m. Saturday, in the school gymnasium * Christian Heritage School: 2 p.m. Sunday, at the school

Hayden High School's ceremony is the first of the bunch, beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday in the school gymnasium.

Opening your eyes to new places and remembering the past will be the themes of the speeches to be given by valedictorian Alyssa Alpe and salutatorian Crystal Mahaffie. Alpe will attend Western State in Gunnison and Mahaffie will attend the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. They both have wanted to be teachers since they were little girls, they said.

"I'm excited, nervous and scared," Mahaffie said. "I don't know if I'm that nervous about graduating, but I'm probably a little more nervous about going to college."

Teacher Ty Zabel also will speak and scholarships will be announced.


LOWELL WHITEMAN SCHOOL

The Lowell Whiteman School's ceremony is at 10 a.m. Saturday at the school.

Whiteman's graduation activities are a weekend-long event that begins with a benefit golf tournament on Friday morning at Haymaker Golf Course, followed by a reception at 5 p.m. for seniors, parents, faculty and trustees. After the graduation on Saturday, a buffet luncheon follows at 1 p.m. and a special naming dedication for the new faculty-staff housing project will be at 1:30 p.m. The events conclude Saturday evening with the annual alumni reunion banquet where past students gather to socialize.

In addition to the various graduation activities, the ceremony itself is unique in its nature. Whiteman faculty members personalize the graduation experience by announcing each of the 23 seniors with a brief speech on the student's accomplishments and his or her personal experiences during the school years.

"It's a place where your teachers are your friends and the memories you hold from this place are ones that will last forever," said senior Carly Gmeiner.

Also included in the ceremony is the commencement speech, given this year by Peggy Garrett, a local Realtor and 1971 Whiteman School alumna. Awards will be given to the student with the highest academic score and to the top student-athlete, in addition to the Headmaster Award that will be presented to the top overall student based on leadership, citizenship, personal growth and academic achievement.


SOROCO HIGH SCHOOL

Soroco High School's ceremony will be at 4 p.m. Saturday in the school's gymnasium.

A speech encouraging graduates to make a difference will be given by co-valedictorian Justin Gilleland. His speech was inspired by seeing people in the community who don't take active roles in other people's lives, he said.

"We shouldn't be the type of people who sit back and don't do anything," Gilleland said. "We should be the type of people who make a difference."

Gilleland hopes to make his mark in the fall when he attends the Colorado School of Mines and majors in chemical engineering.

Co-valedictorian Abby Ainsworth, salutatorian Jennifer Johner and keynote speaker Craig Zablocki will also speak.


CHRISTIAN HERITAGE SCHOOL

Christian Heritage's ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Sunday at the school.

The class verse that will set the tone for this six student ceremony states, "God made his light to shine in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

Students, family and friends will hear speeches from valedictorian Jeremiah Kiely and salutatorian Marissa Mack.

Before attending college in the fall two Christian Heritage students plan to travel this summer before hitting the books. Nate Anderson, who will be majoring in business management at Bemidji University in Minnesota, plans to go on a mission trip to Mexico and travel around Europe. Peter Bennett plans to go to Hawaii before majoring in special education at Cal Lutheran in California this fall.

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