WOLCOTT — When an electric guitar and rock band cranked up “Pomp and Circumstance,” you knew Red Canyon High School and World Academy’s graduation would be wonderfully different, and different is good.
It ended with Alice Cooper belting out, “School’s Out!”
In between, Laura Rodriguez was pitch perfect with “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the ceremony opened and the skies cleared over 4 Eagle Ranch.
“You’d better watch out world, the Class of 2014 is here!” Rodriguez said.
You know those staid, stuffy ceremonies where parents and friends are admonished to sit quietly and somberly observe? Red Canyon/World Academy, thankfully, is nothing like that. Nothing.
Graduation is a milestone to be celebrated. They understand that, and so much more.
Red Canyon graduated 41 seniors. World Academy, an online school, graduated two. Each one walked to huge applause.
Some decorated their mortar board hats with flowers and messages. Eimy Babonoyaba’s said in big red sparkly letters, “As Promised!” A few were even bedazzled, but not as dazzling as the graduates who wore them.
And let the record show that Principal Wade Hill looks great in a suit.
“Congratulations to our parents and thank you for your support of Red Canyon High School. It’s not easy getting here. There’s no instruction manual,” Hill said.
Life rolls by at a breakneck pace, and Hill pointed out that he’s already interviewing students for Red Canyon to fill the shoes of the graduating.
“What’s your struggle?” Hill asked the graduates, the same question he asks incoming students.
Every student has an answer, and they’ve all worked through that struggle, Hill said.
“Celebrate those successes and use them to build toward your future. You have room to grow. We all do,” Hill said.
Sometimes growth pays. Michael El Bitar, for example, earned three scholarships to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial pilot.
“Alternative schools aren’t just for anyone. It’s a different school with different classes,” Pedro Gallegos said. “Alternative schools are for those of us who want to accomplish bigger and greater things in life but need a different path to accomplish our goals.”
Keynote speaker Nathan Free teaches leadership and life skills with several schools and local organizations, including the Vail Leadership Institute.
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do,” Free said. “Thirty years ago, I sat where you were, ready to take on the world, not because I was ready, but because I thought I was entitled to,” Free said.
Life happened and it didn’t work out that way.
“Life throws obstacles in your way. But you did it. You are realizing that you are not victims. You are leaders … Leaders of your own life, and so much more,” Free said. “I have been fortunate enough to see some of these senior reach for their potential.
For some of you, you may think this is the end of your formal education, but not the end of your life’s lessons.
“Live the life that is uniquely yours,” Free said.
The class wrote a poem. The message cut like a laser to the heart of the matter.
“Nothing in this life is permanent. We must never take these things for granted,” they wrote.
Araceli Veleta thanked parents for their push to the commencement line.
“Mom, after everything I put you through, you have never given up on me, and for that I am grateful,” Veleta said.
“Parents, after today some of us will leave home and no longer have you by our side. We are going to be OK. You have taught us to be responsible and to be an adult.
“Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is and wings to fly away,” Veleta said.
It seemed fitting that before graduation, in a round pen down the hill a wrangler was training a young horse. They did the same thing over and over until they had it right. And so it is with education.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.
“Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is and wings to fly away.”
Red Canyon High School Class of 2014