Christopher Barounos and his classmates, the 2011 seniors of Steamboat Springs High School, toss their caps in the air Saturday as they celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony at the high school.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Christopher Barounos and his classmates, the 2011 seniors of Steamboat Springs High School, toss their caps in the air Saturday as they celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony at the high school.

Steamboat Springs High School graduates celebrate their futures

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Pio Utu speaks on Saturday at the Steamboat Springs High School graduation ceremony.

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Erik Owen flashes a thumbs up on Saturday after receiving his diploma at Steamboat Springs High School.

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Coleman Holloway celebrates after receiving his diploma on Saturday in Steamboat Springs.

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Jake Bearss, left, and Alexander Bashan prepare to flip the tassels at the end of Saturday's high school graduation ceremony in Steamboat Springs.

— As 160 Steamboat Springs High School graduates filed out of the gymnasium Saturday afternoon, they unzipped their gowns, handing them back to school faculty as their last act as SSHS students.

But they never shed their smiles.

There were whoops of joy and hugs among the graduates, who embodied the gravity and excitement present throughout the two-hour preceding ceremony.

“I’m just so stoked,” said Alex Bashan, giddily smiling with two of his best friends.

Next to him, graduate Jack Massey said what he learned in

high school most of all was a strong work ethic and he will miss the faculty that was “really cool to us.”

Meghan Lukens said the moment was bittersweet as she hurried to meet her mother.

“It’s really awesome right now, but I think we’ll miss all being together,” she said. “We’ve been working toward this for our whole lives.”

The group of 160 graduated in a gymnasium filled to its brim with eager parents craning cameras to capture the milestone event.

The class’ student council of Lukens, Shelby Struble, Michael Savory and Kendall McGill sat on stage and introduced the speakers, with Savory and Jeff Sperry selected to speak for the students.

The Class of 2011 also chose Pio Utu, an SSHS volunteer of nearly three decades, to deliver the honorary speech, knowing full well that the friend and mentor of many has the capability to speak at great length.

And that he did — for nearly 30 minutes — as he detailed educational experiences of his past in Samoa, sang a Samoan blessing, outlined life metaphors and offered heartfelt, profound advice to the students he mentored through their years in Steamboat Springs.

“Since you were little, you’ve been blessed,” he said. “Every single one of you has had wired in a special gift that makes you different than anyone else that sits beside you. It’s up to you to use it. Either you use it as a weapon or you use it as a tool.”

He reminded the students to remember simple words of respect such as “please,” “excuse me” and “thank you.”

And he told them to move forward from that day with the fire of love, compassion and knowledge burning within, using past experiences, family and friends as the fuel.

“Be brave, be humble, be awake,” he said. “Take each step like it’s your first one. If you fall, like I know you will, when a kind hand reaches out and pulls you up, say, ‘Thank you.’ It might not give you a full life, but it will give you a start.”

After turning their tassels, the class performed the age-old ritual that Sperry described in his speech as when “we celebrate how smart we are by throwing sharp objects into the air.”

And after that, breathless with excitement, they went to meet their proud and sometimes tearful families.

In his speech, Savory left his fellow students with memories of their senior year and a sunny outlook on the future of the class he claimed was known as “angelic.”

“It doesn’t matter what we have or haven’t done, right or maybe wrong, most all of us know where we’re going and what we’re going to do, and it’s what we do from now on that truly matters,” Savory said. “As we finish this chapter of our life, write it how you want to. Pick up a few different colored pens if you must, but most importantly, keep writing.”

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

Class of 2011 scholarships

(name, college attending, accepted scholarships)

■ Sophie Abate

Attending University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

Dance Showcase Scholarship, $1,000

Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship, $12,000

■ Justin Anderson

Attending Grand Canyon University

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $2,000

Grand Canyon’s President’s Scholarship, $10,000

■ Robert Anderson

Attending Colorado State University

Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust, $1,000

Ace at the Curve Scholarship, $1,000

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $1,000

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue/Dave Linear Memorial Scholarship, $1,500

Strong Insurance Agency Scholarship, $1,000

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

■ Tanner Anderson

Attending Colorado State University

Steamboat Springs Chamber Ambassadors Scholarship, $2,000

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

■ Russell Andres

Attending Colorado State University

Ace at the Curve Scholarship, $1,000

Eric Small Memorial Scholarship, $1,000

■ Dustin Atkins

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

CollegeInvest Early Achiever’s Scholarship, $1,000

■ Christopher Barounos

Attending American University

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

American University Scholarship, $33,000

■ Jake Bearss

A /AAA Hockey

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

■ Joan Bier

Attending University of Denver

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

DU Pioneer Scholarship, $11,000

■ Matthew Binsfeld

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

■ Laura Bradfield

Attending Santa Monica College

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

■ Edward Brenner

Attending Adams State College

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

Routt County CattleWomen/Steve Fraysher Scholarship, $1,500

4-H Routt County Scholarship, $3,000

Glenn Werner Memorial, $600

■ Hayley Brookshire

Attending Mesa State College

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

■ Connor Brown

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

TIC Scholarship, $500

■ Jack Burger

Attending Colorado College

ACZ Laboratories/Twin Enviro Services, $500

■ James Keegan Burger

Attending Rollins College

Joe Bonny Tennis Scholarship, $500

Rollins College Centennial Scholarship, $8,000

■ Alan Capistron

Attending Paradise Valley Community College

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $2,000

■ Ciar Colgan

Attending St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence Presidential Scholarship, $15,000

■ Blayne Conroy

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Terry Sports Scholarship, $1,000

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

■ Kayla Delancey

Attending University of Northern Colorado

UNC Provost Freshman Scholarship, $1,250

■ Evan DePuy

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

The Home Ranch, $500

■ Linnea Dixson

Attending University of Wyoming

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Doak Walker Scholarship, $1,500

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $900

UW License Plate Scholarship, $1,500

Children of Alumni, $6,670

■ Justin Doerr

Attending University of St. Thomas

Walmart, $3,000

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $1,000

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

St. Thomas Scholarship, $10,000

■ Jessica Dunlop

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust, $1,000

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue/Dave Linear Memorial Scholarship, $1,000

■ Mirko Erspamer

Attending Colorado State University

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

Ski Town USA Rotary Scholarship, $500

Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, $500

Elk Mountain Lodge No. 118 Fine Arts, $3,000

■ Kayleigh Esswein

Attending Middlebury College

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Judge John Wilkinson Scholarship, $500

Doak Walker Scholarship, $1,500

Middlebury College Grant, $27,400

■ Catherine Fischer

Attending University of Arizona

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

University of Arizona Excellence Award, $8,000

■ Carly Fox

Attending University of Puget Sound

SSEA Scholarship, $1,500

Steamboat Springs Booster Club Pio Utu, $1,000

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

Puget Sound Faculty Scholarship & Grant, $15,300

■ Cassidy Fox

Attending University of Oregon

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

University of Oregon Dean’s Scholar, $6,000

■ Michaela Frias

Attending Dartmouth College

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $2,000

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $800

Dartmouth General Scholarship, $44,024

■ Conor Garrecht-Connelly

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $900

Colorado Grand Scholarship, $3,500

■ Jeffrey Gay

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

Doak Walker Scholarship, $1,500

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $900

■ Natalie Geer

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $900

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

Norlin, $3,000

■ Robert Glass

Attending Colorado State University

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

■ Kevin Gower

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

■ Eva Grant

Attending Colorado State University

CSU Ram Scholarship, $3,250

■ Connor Hagerty

Attending University of Colorado Denver

University Colorado Denver Academic Achievement Award, $1,000

■ Joseph Haight

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Kitchen Perfection, $500

■ Kimberly Heald

Attending Fort Lewis College

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

Pam Walter Memorial Scholarship, $1,000

Fort Lewis Academic Scholarship, $2,773

■ Nicolas Hessenberger

Attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

Ace at the Curve Scholarship, $2,500

Daniel’s Fund Scholarship, $40,000

Cal Poly Outreach Scholarship, $2,000

■ Kaitlin Hitchcock

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

■ Ryan Hogrefe

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

MWH, $1,000

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $2,000

■ Christopher Holmquist

Attending Colorado State University Pueblo

CSU Pueblo Centennial Scholarship, $2,000

■ Katelyn Ihrig

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

■ Shane Kinney

Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Ski Town USA Rotary Scholarship, $500

■ Eva Lambek

University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

■ Corinne Landy

University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $500

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

■ Katheryn Lettunich

Attending Northeastern University

SSEA Scholarship, $1,500

■ Emma Lichtenfels

Attending Colorado State University

Storm Peak Laboratory Scholarship, $500

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

Charles S. Johnson Scholarship, $1,000

CSU Green & Gold Scholarship, $2,000

■ Meghan Lukens

Attending Concordia University Wisconsin

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

Concordia University CUW Presidential Scholarship, $12,039

■ Jessica Mader

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $2,000

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue/Rusty Chandler Memorial Scholarship, $1,000

Ski Town USA Rotary Scholarship, $2,000

■ Benjamin Massey

Attending University of Denver

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

4-H Routt County Scholarship, $1,000

University of Denver Scholarship, $15,000

■ Jackson Massey

Attending University of Vermont

Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust, $1,000

■ Grant McCannon

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

■ Isiah Mendoza-Forsyth

Attending Metropolitan State College of Denver

Optimist Club Teen of the Year Scholarship, $100

■ Hannah Moore

Attending Metropolitan State College of Denver

President’s Academic Achievement Award $4,000

■ Molly Moore

Attending Colorado State University

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

National Association of Women in Construction, $1,000

■ Claudia Najera

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship, $4,400

■ Randall Nelson

Attending Western State College of Colorado

Doak Walker Scholarship, $1,500

■ Hannah Ogden

Attending University of Denver

Steamboat Springs Chamber Ambassadors Scholarship, $2,000

DU Provost, $17,000

■ Erik Owen

Attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Cal Poly Scholarship, $2,000

■ Jenna Peters

Attending University of Portland

University of Portland President’s Scholarship, $12,000

■ Anne Poirot

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steve Maloney Memorial Fund, $500

Dring Travel Fellowship Scholarship, $2,500

Eleanor Bliss Scholarship, $500

Poogie Dawes Memorial Scholarship, $5,000

■ John Robards

Attending Colorado State University

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Veterans of Foreign Affairs Post 4264, $1,000

■ Kaitlyn Rudolph

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Yampa Valley University Women’s Scholarship, $500

■ Kate Rusk

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

■ Michael Savory

Attending Rice University

TIC Scholarship, 500

ACZ Laboratories/Twin Enviro Services, $500

■ Maxx Schaller

Attending Eckerd College

Eckerd College Trustee Scholarship, $16,000

■ Elizabeth Schurman

Attending University of Northern Colorado

Bear Scholarship, $1,000

■ Hope Scott

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

The Home Ranch, $500

Steamboat Springs Booster Club Pio Utu, $500

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

■ Lauren Siegel

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

Joe Bonny Tennis Scholarship, $500

■ Brodee Smith-Lawrence

Attending University of Northern Colorado

UNC Bear Tracks Grant, $1,000

■ Jeffrey Sperry

Attending Colorado College

Tour De Forks, $250

Steve Maloney Memorial Fund, $500

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Scholarship, $1,000

Colorado College Presidential Scholarship and Grant, $22,300

■ Kathleen Stack

Attending University of Arizona

Arizona National Merit Scholarship, $31,000

■ Grace Stamps

Attending New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

Carol Finnoff Scholarship, $500

Center for Visual Arts, $500

University PNCA President’s Scholarship, $12,000

■ Elizabeth Stout

Attending New Hampshire Institute of Art

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

Presidential & Merit Scholarship, $5,000

■ Shelby Struble

Attending Milwaukee School of Engineering

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue/Rusty Chandler Memorial Scholarship, $1,500

Milwaukee School of Engineering Scholarship, $10,000

■ Chelsea Tegtmeier

Attending Colorado State University

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

■ Regan Walton

Attending University of Colorado Boulder

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Scholarship, $1,000

■ Michael Ward

Attending Westminster College

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $800

■ Harrison Weinberg

Attending University of Denver

DU Dean’s Scholarship

■ Laina Weinman

Attending American University

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs Scholarship, $500

Kiwanis/J Scott Wells Memorial Scholarship, $1,000

NRC: KCMV community Scholarship, $1,067

American University Scholarship, $27,900

■ Skylar Weir

Attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Neville Family Scholarship from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, $900

■ Patrick Weston

Attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Terry Sports Scholarship, $2,000

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Steamboat Springs Booster Club Pio Utu, $500

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

Doak Walker Scholarship, $1,500

■ Kendall Yeager

Attending Colorado Mountain College, Alpine

Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Scholarship, $400

Ski Town USA Lion’s Club Scholarship, $500

■ Shealynne Yeager

Attending University of Wyoming

4-H Routt County Scholarship, $3,000

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