Steamboat Springs Lowell Whiteman School graduates had a hard time describing their experiences at the school nestled among the aspens near Strawberry Park.
"You just can't explain it," graduate Rayna Weiss said.
"The school is incredible," graduate Ethan Johnson said. "There are no words to describe it."
On Saturday, under warm, sunny skies, the 31 members of the Class of 2003 said farewell to Lowell Whiteman School. They did so without the traditional graduation music or caps and gowns. They entered the Dariel Henderson Gym to rock music, wearing dress clothes. Walt Daub, head of the school, introduced and praised the class. He also thanked staff members and introduced Chairman Steve Halverson, who praised the soon-to-be grads.
Before continuing, Daub presented the Lowell Whiteman Award of Excellence in Teaching to Joseph Robinson.
Five awards also were presented to outstanding students, and then faculty began the unique Lowell Whiteman diploma presentation.
Before presenting diplomas, faculty members read short stories about the students. Some even used props or tried to imitate the students. Many were remembered by embarrassing, fun or persevering experiences.
Based on the stories read, graduate Chris Puhl will be most remembered by his long hair and earrings, Bobby Cutler will be remembered for wearing his hat with a constant tilt, and Emily Colin will be remembered as the "queen of contusions."
The ceremony closed to Alice Cooper's "School's Out for Summer."
Graduate E.J. Oppenheimer, wearing a shiny, reflective green suit, said it would be strange moving on and not seeing his friends daily. "It still hasn't sunk in yet," he said.
Nichole Rothe cried when she was called to the stage to accept her diploma. She later said she was going to miss classmates.
Rothe will be traveling almost 2,000 miles to attend Birmingham Southern College in Alabama. "I'm ready to get out of the cold," she said.
Peter Mayfield will be traveling to the opposite end of the country to attend Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. "I'm sad to be leaving, but I'm apprehensive at the same time," Mayfield said. "I'm looking forward to moving on."