In a unique ceremony that followed social-distancing guidelines and took over the south side of Cortez, the Montezuma-Cortez Class of 2020 graduated from high school.
All the while remaining in their vehicles, students paraded way up Seventh Street until they arrived at the high school. After winding through the Montezuma-Cortez High School parking lot, seniors crossed a stage set up in front of the school where they received their diplomas, before a masked Principal Eric Chandler directed them to ceremonially turn their tassels.
The 2½-hour ceremony and all students’ names and awards were broadcast live on the KRTZ radio station, and online by Mesa Media Productions.
“The school year has been a challenging one, particularly towards the end, and I want to congratulate all of the Class of 2020 from Montezuma-Cortez High School for their tenacity, their dedication and their hard work in these unprecedented times,” said KRTZ broadcaster Kelly Turner at the event. “And we want to wish the best to the M-CHS Class of 2020 in all of your future endeavors, and all the best to you as you proceed forward on life’s journey.”
Turner read aloud students’ accomplishments and where they were headed next. This year’s class valedictorian was Dimery Plewe. The salutatorian was Gabe Frizzell.
Both gave speeches that were broadcast on YouTube on Saturday night.
Plewe said graduating with the uncertainties surrounding a pandemic crisis, reminded her of the saying, “The best laid schemes of mice of men often go awry,” derived from a Robert Burns poem.
“How fitting – we have been planning what to do after high school our whole lives, now that it is time to take action plans are halted, maybe canceled and left in the air,” Plewe said.
She is inspired by the advice of Dieter Uchtdorf, who said: “As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.”
Find ways to serve others, Plewe urged, whether it is helping a neighbor, contributing your labor, or “voting yes on a mill levy for teacher pay.”
“Serving others brings peace and happiness no worldly riches could,” she said. “Seize the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s world.”
Frizzell said he took the advice of his friends to take his speech seriously, rather than going with a more comical approach.
He urged fellow graduates to continue with the discipline and work ethic that got them through 13 years of school.
“You held onto your good habits instead of the bad ones, which not everyone can do,” he said. “Congratulations for obtaining this prestigious thing.”
Stick to your beliefs and trust yourself, Frizzell continued.
“Determine how you want our life to be and continue to push yourself with the same good habits you have been practicing to graduate,” he said. “Let your display of determination to graduate empower you going forward.”
Starting at 4:30 p.m., seniors and their families lined Seventh Street, with cars decked in senior banners and balloons fluttering in the light breeze. The soon-to-be grads arrived in cap and gown and masks of all sorts, riding shotgun or atop vehicles.
Two firetrucks raised a flag bridge for the parade of vehicles to pass under before entering into the parking lot, and a few law enforcement officials on bikes were on hand to keep onlookers and participants in line.
On Saturday night at 6 p.m., the district released a special YouTube premiere of the M-CHS Parade of Graduates and Drive-thru Graduation Ceremony with prerecorded speeches. The link to the ceremony was released via email and on Facebook.