Battle Mountain graduation: Every end leads to a new beginning
VAIL, Colorado – It seems like just yesterday that the guys from the Battle Mountain High School class of 2010 didn’t even have facial hair yet, and now they’re graduating from childhood to adulthood.
That’s what Bergen Tjossem said as he and fellow graduates Connor Tedstrom, Cassidy Corcoran, Alex Whitney and Stephen Licciardi reflected on the past four years of high school together at their commencement ceremony Saturday.
It was the perfect time to also rub in the fact that the seniors had beaten their rival high school, Eagle Valley, in a lot of major sporting events this year, too, Corcoran said.
“It was definitely a good year to be a Husky,” she said.
The Battle Mountain graduates celebrated more than just their graduation on Saturday – they were the 50th graduating class in the school’s history and the first to graduate from the brand-new school in Edwards.
Brianna Johnson, the student body president, said the class members would never forget their years at Battle Mountain. Johnson didn’t want follow in the footsteps of previous student body presidents by giving a speech full of advice, so she stuck to just one piece of advice for her classmates.
“Keep doing exactly what you’re doing,” Johnson said. “We will make the world a better place.”
Johnson was just one of hundreds of proud faces looking on at a packed Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. She was proud to be a part of the class, and teacher Patrick Phelan was proud to know the class.
It was obvious why the class of 2010 chose Phelan, the teacher for whom the old Battle Mountain High School’s football field is named, as the person to give the Charge to the Class. His wisdom and sense of humor had commanded the students’ respect for years, and they wanted to leave high school with just a few more parting words from him.
Phelan said he didn’t prepare a speech, but he shared three memorable questions that he had heard in his lifetime and used the answers to those questions as his Charge to the Class.
Someone asked Phelan what he did that was so great to get a football field named after him, to which he replied, “I showed up every day and did my best.”
When someone who couldn’t quite remember why she recognized him in Wal-Mart one day asked him if he used to be somebody, he thought to himself, “Well, I am somebody.”
“Celebrate your uniqueness,” Phelan said. “That’s your second charge.”
And when a man in 2006, who realized he was walking around the track at Phelan Field with Patrick Phelan himself, said to him, “Aren’t you dead?” Phelan confirmed that he was far from it.
“No, I’m just trying to finish strong,” Phelan said. “That’s your third charge seniors – finish strong.”
Phelan went on to sing “Forever Young” to retiring teacher Nick Loetscher, who is retiring after 32 years of teaching at Battle Mountain High School.
Loetscher and Phelan are two examples of the teachers that Battle Mountain students feel so honored to have known and learned from. They are teachers the students will remember forever.
Students wiped away tears as they listened to senior Alyssa Evans read a farewell speech for Loetscher, the class of 2010’s Educator of the Year.
“He’s a teacher but also a learner,” Evans said. “He genuinely enjoys his students, and we genuinely enjoy him. For Battle Mountain classes to come, they don’t know what they’re missing.”