For the 10 seniors who walked across the stage at Dove Creek High School on Thursday night, graduation meant saying goodbye to more than just a school.
The school gym was crowded with the grads’ friends and relatives. The main speaker, school counselor Eric Stiasny, addressed each senior by name, noting their individual strengths, as did the salutatorian and valedictorian. Since several of the graduates had grown up together in Dolores County, their celebration had a family atmosphere, with each blue-and-yellow clad student joining the audience’s cheers for their classmates.
“You will never be successful unless you learn to give beyond yourself,” Stiasny told them.
He gave examples of ways members of the class had exceeded expectations during their four years at Dove Creek, from Kiera Baughman, who got an early start on nursing school by attending night classes at a community college, to Donovan Trudeau, who gained a passion for teaching younger children. Stiasny had know some of them since they were in kindergarten, and he urged them all to pursue happiness and lead “decent, moral lives.”
The graduates’ camaraderie shone through in the short speeches by salutatorian Baughman and valedictorian Savannah Ayers.
“Don’t be afraid to take chances and fail a couple times,” Ayers said. “Mistakes happen. Failures happen, but it is how you can bounce back from it that will measure your success.”
The ceremony included a slide show that featured pictures from each grad’s childhood, and many pictures of them growing up together.
Several students received scholarships as well as diplomas. Ayers, a rodeo enthusiast who plans to go to veterinary school, received a $1,000 scholarship from the Southwestern Cowbelles, and Baughman received two scholarships from the Onward! Legacy Foundation, worth $3,300 total. Other students received awards and grants from local companies like Empire Electric Association, as well as their chosen universities.
At the end of the night, graduates were given a flower for each of their relatives to commemorate the occasion, and threw their caps in the air to the sound of a Bruno Mars.
The Dove Creek High School class of 2017: Savannah Ayers, Madalyn Baker, Kiera Baughman, Shelby Fullmer, Dante Gallegos, Scott Gatlin, Cody Kennedy, Amber Pearson, Donovan Trudeau and Dancey Young.