VAIL - If there's one thing that stood out at the Battle Mountain High School graduation Saturday, it was the strong relationships these students have built over the years not only with each other, but especially with the parents and teachers in their lives.
Battle Mountain High School seniors celebrated their commencement at Ford Amphitheater in Vail in front of hundreds of proud family members and friends. The ceremony was marked by poignant moments filled with advice, examples of friendship, admiration and nostalgia - moments that beloved teachers and parent "Jer-Dog" will remember just as much as these students will.
Jerry Nichols, or "Jer-Dog" as the friends and classmates of his son and 2012 graduate Christian Nichols like to call him, gave the parent address to the graduating class. He, like the teachers who spoke before him, had developed strong bonds with these students and it showed.
Jerry Nichols wanted to share some words with the graduates that he wished he would have heard at their age. He left the class with four tips for life after high school: Get out of your comfort zone; finish what you start; create your own opportunities; and get involved.
They were words many of the students already live by, but it's advice Nichols hoped they wouldn't forget now that high school and childhood is just a memory.
But with that memory begins something new - "an opportunity to go in our own direction," said Carsyn Bock, student body president.
"In this time of so many choices and opportunities, let us pursue our destinies with passion ...," she told her fellow
No one could have been a better inspiration for such passion as the teacher the class of 2012 chose to deliver the charge to the class, Mr. Patrick Phelan.
Phelan graduated from Battle Mountain High School, too, Saturday - from four decades of teaching there. As he took center stage to deliver the charge, the graduates all stood and cheered him on. It was obvious this man touched each and every one of their lives in a special way.
As Phelan spoke, the graduates listened carefully. These were words they didn't want to miss from one of those teachers that these students will likely still talk about years from now.
Phelan cracked a few jokes, proving why the students love him. He spoke of the different kinds of parents in the crowd and referred to the parents of the "C" students as those who would clap enthusiastically with tears running down their faces.
"Not tears of joy, tears of relief," Phelan said to a laughing audience.
With all jokes aside, Phelan told the graduates to "celebrate these important moments of your life," - that was the first charge.
The second charge was to "find that special person in your life - it is very
And the third charge was to "be
"When you stop being the person everyone expects you to be and start being the person you truthfully are, your life changes, and it changes for the better - I promise you," Phelan said.
After the students picked up their diplomas and bounced around a few inflatable balls on stage during the ceremony, there was one last message the class of 2012 needed to deliver - a message of remembrance of their classmate and friend Andrew Claymon, who died of cancer his sophomore year and would have graduated this year.
Claymon left his mark on Battle Mountain, and his friends and classmates took the stage in his honor.
"Just because he's not physically present doesn't mean his spirit isn't rejoicing with us in this moment," one graduate and friend said.
And with that remembrance, it was time for the class of 2012 to turn their tassels and graduate from high school.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.