Steamboat Springs Sadieanne Grossbaum walked across The Lowell Whiteman School commencement stage several times Friday afternoon in her neon green high-tops and white dress.
She accepted the Ranking Scholar Award, the Head of School Award for leadership, and finally, her high school diploma during the graduation ceremony.
The sunny blond teenager from Idaho said her years at the private school’s woodsy Strawberry Park campus offered more than just schooling.
“It’s life,” Grossbaum said after graduating with 19 of her classmates. “I learned how to become me.”
The annual Lowell Whiteman School Commencement Exercises honored 20 graduates in the ceremony Friday afternoon. In just less than two hours, the Head of School Chris Taylor, the school’s faculty and the students showed the audience of hundreds what The Lowell Whiteman School community was about.
In his introductory speech, Taylor said he always reads a passage from a book that fits the class.
For the Class of 2011, he took a playful approach in reading from Dr. Seuss’ “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are,” reminding the students that the wealth of experiences at Lowell Whiteman — from foreign trips to relationships with faculty — will serve them in their future.
“Don’t grumble, don’t stew,” he read. “Some critters are much-much, oh, ever so much-much, so muchly much-much more unlucky than you.”
Although the Class of 2011’s numbers were impressive — the class of 20 was accepted to 50 colleges and offered $500,000 in scholarships — it was the students’ quirks and unusual impressions that stood out as the diplomas were distributed.
Diplomas were handed out in the traditional Lowell Whiteman manner, which is decidedly untraditional.
Each student is introduced by a short, endearing and often humorous speech by a faculty member of his or her choice. The speeches spawned laughter and tears among the crowd as teachers told stories, read prose and offered wise words of advice to the students they’d gotten to know throughout the years.
Maria Hillenbrand was a girl who could see a happy ending in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Kevin Broten once wrote a science-fiction version of “Wuthering Heights,” and Erik Peterson was a linguistic prodigy who could speak four languages.
And there was Shelby Dyer, who seemed to have an ongoing competition with Academic Dean Meg Morse on who was the loudest on campus.
Teachers praised the students for their traits whether they were obsessive, stoic, artistic or athletic, because all of those characteristics, along with the support of friends, family and mentors, are the tools that add up to a successful future.
Jay Helman, president of Western State College, delivered the commencement address about those tools for success.
“Great things lie ahead for you,” he said. “Greatness requires the courage to take risks and meet challenges. Today’s graduation indicates that you’ve taken risks and met challenges.
“Don’t be complacent with good … greatness lies ahead, and you’ve got the tools to go for it.”
In speaking to her fellow students, Student Council co-President Dyer was confident that she and her classmates would be “going for it” in each of their own, quirky ways.
“In a time of change, we move on, and are ready to tackle what comes our way,” she said.
■ Claire Borgen — University of Colorado
■ Kevin Broten — Westminster College
■ Michael DeGrandis — University of Denver
■ Shelby Dyer — University of Colorado
■ Elizabeth Finch — Lewis and Clark
■ William Findell — University of Montana
■ Mary Ellis Fort — University of Utah
■ Galen Goldscheitter — University of Colorado
■ Sadieanne Grossbaum — University of Idaho
■ Maria Hillenbrand — St. Lawrence University
■ Wilson Horner — Reed College
■ David Lea — Montana State University
■ Madison Marshall — University of Colorado
■ Erik Peterson — Georgetown University
■ Ross Petersen — Reed College
■ Austin Reed — Cuesta College
■ Jonathon Roser — University of Colorado
■ Allie Storie — Montana State University
■ Charles Von Thaden — Gap year/competing
■ Tomas Vrba — Montana State University
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com