Mancos High School sent 31 graduates into the wider world Sunday during a charming ceremony that had a personal touch.
Keynote speaker Cathy Epps, a beloved school principal who is recovering from a serious car crash, spoke about the importance of perseverance.
“I’ve learned to walk and talk again, and you will also face difficult challenges, whether in college, trade school or on the job training,” Epps said.
While recovering from her accident, she contacted mentors and parents of every graduating student to find out what makes them special.
From the podium, she shared what she learned with each student, calling them out by name and delivering a personal message of inspiration, encouragement, and insight.
“I believe in you, and everybody in this room believes in you,” Epps said. “Never say ‘I can’t.’ Instead, say ‘This is difficult, and I need help.’ That is how you persevere through life’s many challenges.”
In her speech to classmates, salutatorian Hannah Skinner urged them to “set goals that go beyond the summit.”
“Take risks, do things that scare you, set a goal and surpass it,” she said.
“When you’re young, the future seems so possible, and as we age we must not let go of the high standards we set for ourselves. Cheers to our current and future successes!”
Valedictorian Brittney Peacock reminded students to go forward with the perspective that life is actually pretty short, so every day counts.
“What are you going to do with the time that you have? It is a deep question that is not easy to answer,” she said.
“Pursue opportunity with your whole heart, and do what you can to make a positive difference in the world.”
As a thought experiment, imagine 100 years after you die,” Peacock said. “What impact did you have on the world?
“Dream big, learn from your mistakes and always be thankful.”
A creative 20-minute video was shown full of school memories and funny interviews from seniors about their fondest school memories.
The film closed with images of each graduate as a baby or child, then as a young adult, full of promise.
“Your class pushed our teachers to be innovative, now it is your turn,” said Principal Adam Priestley.
“Don’t wait to figure out what to do in life – start fulfilling your dreams now.”