Final days of school met with mixed emotions for Steamboat seniors |

Final days of school met with mixed emotions for Steamboat seniors

The Steamboat Springs High School Class of 2012 says goodbye to faculty members Thursday after an all-school assembly at the gymnasium. The class will graduate Saturday.

— The Steamboat Springs High School Class of 2012 didn't leave with wild cheers or a crazy stampede — although that did come later.

Instead, when the 142 soon-to-be-alumni officially were released from the school following an all-school assembly in their honor in the morning, they walked quietly away. They thanked the faculty, gathered for the occasion, and students hugged favorite teachers. They drifted into the hallway in small groups and eventually to the parking lot and slowly began to ponder an entirely new reality.

"Huh," one girl exclaimed, shuffling along with a crowd of classmates. "What am I supposed to do now?"

She likely was thinking long term because the short-term answers all were or will be found in short order. The class returned an hour later for a rabble-rousing dash through the halls of their former school. They'll return again at 2 p.m. Saturday for the school's graduation ceremony.

In the meantime, the class will be dealing with a mix of emotions.

"It's a very bittersweet day," said Meghan Rabbitt, bound for school and to play soccer at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. "You're excited to leave their high school, but you don't want to leave your friends behind."

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Fellow graduate Addie Sulentich echoed that mix of emotions. She's heading over the mountains to Colorado State University. That still will be within an afternoon's drive of home, but as she filed out of the school as a high school student for the final time, she had trouble processing just what all the next year will bring.

"You're can't really picture yourself in high school any more, but I can't picture myself in college either," she said. "You're just in this state where you're done, but you're starting a brand new beginning. It's scary, but it's exciting."

The last months and in particular the past week all has been about graduation for the seniors. After all the college applications and future planning, the graduate party plotting, the class was further ushered along Wednesday with a scholarship banquet that doled out more than $130,000 in local scholarships. Mallory Hoots, also headed to CSU, was among the night's big recipients. Her haul was highlighted by the $5,000 "Poogie" Dawes scholarship, $3,500 from a 4-H scholarship and a few awards of smaller amounts.

"I was honored to get them," Hoots said, considering the pride that swelled as presenters read off her name time and time again. "I was just really, really happy."

The school abandoned the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian honors several years ago, replacing it with summa cum laude honors for graduates with a 4.2 grade-point average or better, magna cum laude for those from 4.1 to 4.19 and cum laude designations for those between 4.0 and 4.09.

When all the grades were in, Jake Barker, Emily Hannah, Mary O'Connell and Lev Tsypin were all at the top of the class.

Graduation on Saturday is going to be fun, and the thought of anything after that is thrilling, they said.

At least for Thursday, though, seniors with high grades and low, with big plans and otherwise simply were focused on trying to put it all in perspective.

"I was on the verge of crying all day," said Hannah Barkey, who is headed to Westminster College in Salt Lake City. "This year just went by so fast."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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