Physiology teacher Lynda Stahl stepped to the podium during Saturday's graduation ceremony at Steamboat Springs High School and said she could offer no sage advice or words of wisdom.
Instead, she spoke to the 154 seniors matter-of-factly, emphasizing that, while their lives are about to change, they all have the ability to succeed.
"The real secret to success is to get up one more time than you fall down," Stahl said during her honorary presentation to Steamboat's Class of 2004. "You can be successful if you have the courage to get back up. That's the real lesson I hope you take away from this school. You will always need determination and perseverance to succeed. This is your shot. Take it. Run with it. Make the most of it. Never give up."
While portions of Saturday's graduation ceremonies were devoted to looking ahead, the seniors and the assembled family, friends and faculty who packed the high school gymnasium were treated to pictures and stories of the past.
Valedictorian Daniel Barney reflected on how the world has changed since the seniors walked into Steamboat Springs High School in fall 2000. Terrorism was for TV shows and the Twin Towers stood tall. As the world changed, he and his classmates changed as they moved closer to graduation day.
"It wasn't long ago that I couldn't imagine today," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish. ... Together we make up an amazing group."
Barney and salutatorian Lindsay Stanford, who plans to attend Purdue University in Indiana in the fall, delivered anecdotes about individuals, joking that the teachers were relieved to see this graduating class leave.
"As we end one chapter, I think it's important for us to realize we are starting another one," she said to her classmates. "We are now just starting to really live. Remember we all forever will be graduates of the Class of 2004."
It is a class that has entertained the school and the community athletically and artistically. Barney, Tyler Johnson, Greg Packer, Nate Lotz and the senior members of the high school choir demonstrated a bit of the talent through a song that drew an arousing applause.
In the song, "Our Goodbye," which Johnson co-wrote with his older brother Ryan, the performers bade farewell to those in the bleachers as well as each other.
"We have wished for this moment all our lives," Johnson sang. "Say goodbye."
Steamboat's graduates also have played a part in continuing the district's reputation for academic excellence. Through the generosity and hard work of businesses, associations, clubs and individuals, 134 scholarships totaling nearly $103,000 were presented Saturday.
On behalf of the senior class, treasurer Melissa White and secretary Alex Griffing presented the senior gift -- a new electronic scrolling sign to be used in the commons area.
At the end of the nearly two-hour ceremony, Deirdre Dwyer Boyd stepped to the podium and gave the seniors permission to turn their tassels. And for the 154 seniors who received diplomas Saturday, their final memory of the high school gym will be filled with flying caps, beach balls, balloons and an enormous sense of accomplishment.
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