Our view: Looking back and ahead

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Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Paul Hughes, community representative
  • Gail Smith, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

It must have been hard for friends and family of Clinton Koler to hold back tears Saturday morning when he walked across the stage at Soroco High School in Oak Creek to collect his high school diploma.

As reported in Friday's Steamboat Today, graduating high school seemed an impossibility 19 years ago when Koler was born with Down syndrome. Doctors told his parents he would be severely limited socially and intellectually.

"We were told he'd be a happy baby, but he wouldn't go very far," mom Stephanie Bratton said.

Koler proved them wrong. In addition to his academic accomplishments, Koler swam and ran track in the Special Olympics and has skied since he was a third-grader, served as manager of Soroco's varsity boys basketball team and participated on the school's Green Team. He was on the honor court for homecoming and prom and has been active in Routt County 4-H.

Koler is proof that graduating high school is a significant accomplishment worth celebrating. With that in mind, there's plenty of celebrating to do across Routt County this time of year.

About 200 Routt County teens are graduating high school this month and next. And in the coming weeks, many of them will head off to college or enter the work force, taking on new responsibilities and challenges in the process.

As they close one chapter and begin another, we again offer our graduates the following thoughts:

- Celebrate graduation safely and responsibly. Remember, the repercussions - legal and otherwise - of your actions can have serious and lasting effects on your futures.

- For those who go on to pursue higher education, have fun but stay focused. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Never lose sight of why you're there and what it's costing. There won't be teachers, parents or guidance counselors to remind you to attend that early morning lecture or study for that midterm. The choices you make are yours, as are the consequences.

- Explore. Many of you were fortunate to spend your childhood years in beautiful Routt County, but there's an enormous world beyond Northwest Colorado. Study abroad. Accept a job offer somewhere entirely foreign to you. Embrace the diversity our planet has to offer, and cherish the opportunities to be seized.

- Life is short and should be enjoyed. Find something you love to do, and do it as best you can. But don't worry if it takes awhile to discover your calling. Recognize the positives in everything you do and try, and use them as a guide for your next adventure. Most of all, don't be afraid of change.

- Discover the rewards of being active in your community. Whether it's volunteering at your church, reading to local senior citizens, spending a weekend day working for Habitat for Humanity or serving meals at a homeless shelter, there are few things in life more satisfying than giving of yourself for the benefit of others. Remember all the people who gave their time and money to help make you the person you are today, and pay it forward.

Congratulations, Class of 2009. We wish you a happy, healthy and successful future.

Comments

Suz 5 years, 6 months ago

The Koler and Bratton families wish to thank the Steamboat Pilot for the very nice articles written about Clinton and his classmates. We would also like to thank all the friends and loved ones who joined us for this very special day. Clinton had a wonderful day and it will be remembered always. We would also like to give a very special thank you to all of Clinton's friends and classmate who have been there through out the years. You made his day. Thank you to all.

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