Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Soroco graduate Richard Gonzales celebrates after receiving his diploma Saturday in Oak Creek. Soroco graduated 25 seniors during the ceremony.
Oak Creek There was an unusual sense of awareness that bound together the various elements of the Soroco High School graduation ceremony.
The sons and daughters of South Routt County graduated Saturday, 25 children of miners and farmers, cow hands and business professionals, 25 young adults who to an outside eye may seem so different, but who for one final day together celebrated what they all had in common.
It added up a nearly full gymnasium and a Soroco ceremony that was entirely representative of the many personalities of the region. Cowboy hats rode through the crowd next to, and at times on top of, suits and ties. Rusty pickups with dogs in the back parked next to gleaming new Camaros.
“Always remember where you’re from,” valedictorian Lauryn Bruggink advised from the stage. “This school is a part of who we are. ... We should be proud of that fact.”
Former longtime Soroco teacher and wrestling coach David Schmittel delivered the commencement address. Although he last taught at the school in 1992, capping a 23 year run with the Rams, he didn’t seem to forget what it’s all about.
He laid out advice for life for the graduates using the lessons he used to try to drill into his wrestlers.
Learn the basic rules on the mat, in life. Learn what you can’t do, whether it be giving an opponent an easy opening for a pin, or breaking the law and ending up in the pen.
Respect the fact that life’s not always fair, practice hard, try your hardest and don’t whine.
Those are worthy words for any graduating class. What made it South Routt was that he constantly tied the lessons to stories of his former wrestlers, many of whom were in the audience and many of whom had children sitting front and center wearing caps and gowns.
The message he sent was as powerful as anything else said: Soroco runs deep.
Saturday’s speakers told tales of science room accidents, ill-advised library naps and classroom shenanigans. They recalled the memories that bound classmates to one another and that forever will bind this class to South Routt.
Now, they’re all headed 25 new directions and dozens of different places. They’re going to Wyoming to learn, to Denver for softball, the farm to work or Texas to wrestle. On Saturday, they were all Soroco Rams; however, and where they came from mattered far more than where they’re going.
“You’ve completed the warm-up,” Schmittel said. “Now you’re being called to the biggest match of your life. Go be a champion.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com