Oak Creek Soroco High School's Class of 2008 spent 12 years together in South Routt schools, watching each other grow and learning what makes each of them unique - and getting along in spite of it, salutatorian Mikal Achtner said Saturday.
Hundreds of attendees packed the Soroco High School gym to recognize the 30 graduates of the Class of 2008 Saturday morning, cameras flashing throughout as proud parents and family members watched their seniors accept their diplomas and flip their tassels.
"The last four years in this place seemed to fly by, just like everyone said they would," valedictorian Kyle Dimmitt said.
Departing South Routt School District Superintendent Kelly Reed, as the student-selected commencement speaker, offered parting advice to his final senior class at Soroco High School.
"Learn to accept yourself, develop your strengths, forget about your weakness, and most of all, laugh," Reed said. "Never forget, tomorrow belongs to those who make the most of it."
At the beginning of the senior slideshow, which featured each graduate separately - baby pictures and all - the Class of 2008 paid homage to one former Soroco High School student who was not with them on graduation day. The audience observed a moment of silence for Sam Hedemark, who died at age 17 last June in an oil tank explosion near Chapman Reservoir in Rio Blanco County.
After accepting their diplomas, each student presented red long-stem roses to their parents and gave the audience a round of applause.
"This class has come a long way, and they wouldn't get here without the support of their parents and the Soroco schools staff," Soroco Secondary Schools Principal James Chamberlin said.
Community members and school officials recognized students for scholarship awards totaling more than $55,000, Chamberlin said.
"Thanks to all the community and collegiate donors who are helping these students in their next phase of life," he said.
After the commencement ceremony ended with decorated mortarboards flying into the air and skittering across the gym floor, the graduates formed a receiving line to greet all of their well-wishers. Assembled outside the gym, it was the last time the Class of 2008 would all stand together under the same roof, as they go their separate ways to new jobs, to the military, and to colleges and universities near and far.
Soroco High School seniors' scholarships
4-H Hertfertner Scholarships - Glenda Long, $1,000
4-H Scholarships - Kelsey Samuelson, Bailey Carrell, $1,000 each
Blue Eagle Halterman Memorial Scholarship - Bailey Carrell, $1,000
Colorado Mountain College Incentive Award - Justin Luciano, $1,000
Colorado Mountain College Mathew Wells Scholarship - Justin Luciano, $1,000
Colorado Northwestern Community College Award - Justine Ager, $1,000
Colorado Northwestern Community College/National Junior College Athletic Association - Kelsey Samuelson, $15,600
Colorado State University Green and Gold Scholarship - Kyle Dimmit, $2,000
Doak Walker Scholarship - Kelsey Samuelson, $1,500
Egerian Lodge Educational Grant - Mikal Achtner, Glenda Long, $500 each
Friends of Soroco PTO - Kelsey Samuelson, $500
Hope Scholarship Award, New Mexico Highlands University - Journee Germain, $3,456
Institute of Business and Medical Careers Scholarship Award - Amanda Jo Meyer, $1,000
Louis and Wilma Rossi Family FFA Scholarship - Glenda Long, $500
McKinstry Academic Excellence Award - $1,000
Pinnacol Foundation - Trevor Schmid, $2,500
Routt County CattleWomen's Scholarship - Glenda Long, $1,500
Routt County Conservation District and the Bud Werner Memorial Scholarship - Kelsey Samuelson, $600
South Routt Economic Development Council Entrepreneur Scholarship - Glenda Long, $500
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. - Glenda Long, Justin Luciano, $3,000 each; Mikal Achtner, Bailey Carrell, Kelsey Samuelson, $1,500 each
Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors - Mikal Achtner, Justine Ager, Glenda Long, Kelsey Samuelson, $1,000 each
Steamboat Springs Chamber Ambassadors - Glenda Long, $2,000
Wes Milway Memorial Scholarship - Kelsey Samuelson, $500