Members of Soroco High School's Class of 2005 made one last trip across the gymnasium stage Saturday to receive their diplomas and start the next chapter in their lives.
Thirty-six students graduated, and they couldn't have been more excited.
"We finally made it," class President Kalvert Shiner said to her fellow classmates in her opening speech. "The key to the race of life is to rise up when you fall down," she said.
This year's keynote speaker was supposed to be Dan Issel, former NBA basketball player and coach of the Denver Nuggets, but Issel had to cancel his speech because of a death in the family. Issel instead had Shiner read a statement to the graduating class on his behalf.
Issel advised the class to "live every day to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow brings."
The graduating class also honored Greg Binsfeld, the senior class sponsor and 24-year math teacher at Soroco.
Binsfeld addressed the class and received booming applause for the math jokes and analogies he delivered.
"Just like with math, never be afraid to ask questions or for help," he said. Binsfeld concluded his speech with thanks not only to the graduating class but also to the community for entrusting him with their children's minds.
"You truly are a wonderful group, and I wish you all the best life has to offer," he said.
Perhaps the most impressive moments of the graduation were when students were awarded scholarships.
Lisa Idelberg, a Soroco coun----selor who was in charge of keeping track of the numerous scholarships, estimates that the seniors received more than $180,000 in funds this year.
Greg Block received the prestigious Boettcher scholarship, a full scholarship to any Colorado college or university.
"I think graduation is pretty routine -- it does happen every year," Block said, "but this is the death of one life and the birth of another.
"I used to think graduation meant millions of graduates plus billions of relatives equals Hallmark plus profit, but now I see it differently. I really am going to miss this place."
Block plans to go to Colorado College in the fall to study biology and architecture.
Soroco High School Principal James Chamberlin said the ceremony went well, considering that this was one of Soroco's largest graduating classes.
"It was a great turnout, and I wish them well," Chamberlin said.
Niki Luark, the mother of graduate Denis Luark, agreed.
"The ceremony was just beautiful," she said. "It is a sad moment but also an exciting one because now I am letting him go, and it's his life to make the most of."
Luark, who wore his tassel on a cowboy hat, was the recipient of about $9,000 in scholarships. He plans to attend Colorado State University, join ROTC and study agricultural economics.
Graduate Courtney Long was glad to have been with her family and friends Saturday and to finally graduate.
"I feel good, and I am excited," she said, "because I can't believe I made it."
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