GYPSUM — Before the graduates turned their tassels from left to right, Eagle Valley High School still had a few lessons to teach the class of 2014.
Lesson one: Expect the unexpected.
The day started as so many late-May days do. Morning clouds were soon replaced by a crystaline-blue sky, perhaps because of the brightening effect of the smiles and joy that always accompany these celebrations of great milestones in life.
The clearing sky came just as the ceremony began, with principal Greg Doan’s greeting and introduction of various school and district officials, special music from the band and choir, and addresses from valedictorian Lauren Magdaleno and salutatorian Trevor Borasio.
Parents and grandparents beamed, cameras clicked and toddlers raced back and forth in the stadium grandstands. It was everything a graduation should be.
And then the morning became something more.
In the midst of longtime Eagle Valley teacher Charles Vogel’s address to the class — not long after he advised the students that, “If life gives you melons” a check for dyslexia may be in order — the power went out at Hot Stuff Stadium. In fact, the power went out all over Gypsum. That, of course, knocked out the sound system, which made for a very quiet ceremony.
Vogel finished his remarks — he was addressing the seniors, after all, and they could still hear him.
THE LESSONS CONTINUE
What came next, though, turned into the day’s next lessons: Be ready to improvise, and it’s good to have friends you can count on.
After a few quiet moments, someone found a bullhorn, which principal Greg Doan used ably to move the ceremony along. Eagle County School Board President Jeanne McQueeney was clearly unfamiliar with bullhorn use — apparently a neglected area of study in both high school and college — but with Doan’s help, she still certified to the hundreds in attendance that this group, 163 students strong, met the requisite standards as high school graduates.
While counselors Tammy Boeke and Kristan Carey took turns reading graduates’ names for their walk across the stage through the bullhorn — a first, Boeke said — a generator-equipped truck from the Gypsum Fire Department arrived, extension cords were run and the public address system soon was booming out the names of graduates.
Friends quick with a helping hand can be heaven-sent.
PLENTY TO CELEBRATE
Whether using a bullhorn or a sound system, there was plenty to celebrate. Various graduates received acknowledgment from friends, family and well-wishers ranging from heartfelt applause to the occasional blast of a compressed-air horn.
And when Abel Orona’s name was read, the senior class rose as one to cheer on a classmate who had to clear plenty of hurdles to earn his high school diploma.
TAKING ON LIFE
The scramble to keep the ceremony running was a coincidental echo of Magdaleno’s address to her classmates.
A longtime student of Brazilian jiu jitsu, Magdaleno advised her classmates that life can be their biggest opponent. To face down that opponent, Magdaleno urged the graduates to keep a positive mindset, maintain a good stance, take control of their lives and, most important, stay confident.
Before the power went out, Vogel told the seniors they need to temper their knowledge and what others tell them is “known” with healthy skepticism. He also urged them to retain a “beginner’s mind,” which is open to all possibilities.
After the ceremony ended and Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun” played through the re-energized sound system, families dotted the football field for photos and congratulations.
The world of possibilities Vogel spoke of is starting to form for some of these graduates and is still taking shape for others. This day, though, will be long remembered.