Battle Mountain seniors bid farewell
VAIL – Francisco Rojas, 17, struggled to learn English when he moved from Mexico City to the valley four years ago. Now, he’s graduating from Battle Mountain High School with six Advanced Placement classes under his belt that have earned him enough credits to enter the University of Northern Colorado as a sophomore.Rojas was one of 138 seniors who graduated from Battle Mountain Sunday afternoon at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. The class boasted a National Merit finalist, Riley Pack, and a National Merit semi-finalist, Walker Loetscher, in its midst. Principal Brian Hester, in his first year at the school, said the seniors have a lot of potential and he likes how the smaller class size allowed them to get to know each other better. “They’re also one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever worked with in so far as supporting each other in their endeavors,” Hester said.
Their support for one another was evident last week as a few seniors got together to talk about their futures, but ended up complimenting each others’ accomplishments instead.Senior Emily Wray, 18, is in awe of much of what her peers have accomplished. She herself graduated with an above-4.0 grade point average and plans on writing and illustrating children’s books in the future. She will be studying art at Colorado State University in the fall. “I like to draw because it’s easy,” she said. “You can do it anywhere. Just pick up a pencil and draw on a napkin. It’s the easiest way to do it.”In one of her most recent works, Wray placed her own face with her mother’s face, and in the background wrote, “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.”
“I usually like to draw people, and I try to draw more than just what they look like,” she said. “You try to capture something a little bit more, like a mood or even a story, so that when somebody looks at it they’re looking at something more than a person.”Wray said she has always admired how perfect fellow senior Griselda Villalobos’ hair looks each day. Villalobos, 18, will be studying cosmetology at Glenwood Beauty Academy. “I can totally see that happening,” Wray said. “Her hair is always so cool. I just tell myself that she doesn’t wake up like that in the morning, because if she did, it would make me feel really bad.”Villalobos is graduating on time after giving birth to her baby, Yoselin, eight months ago. She said she never thought of dropping out, although her cousin did after becoming pregnant.
“My parents were supporting me a lot,” she said. “So it’s not really as hard as I thought it would be. Plus, I’m not working right now, but I worked up to the date that I had the baby.”When Rojas mentioned the number of AP classes he took in front of three of his classmates, they literally gasped. Rojas said his English as a Second Language teacher, Heather Goodrich, recognized his talent freshman year and encouraged him to sign up for the college-level classes.While English is still difficult for Rojas, computers are a different story. He earned the highest score possible on his Advanced Placement computer science exam.”I really like computers,” he said. “I’ve been learning since I was 4 or 5 years old, when I had my first computer.”Senior Gustavo Bronfield is graduating after only three years at Battle Mountain. Bronfield, who emigrated from Honduras six years ago, said he accomplished his goal by taking classes during the summer.
“I like to say I went sophomore, junior and senior year,” he said. “I was never a freshman.”The 18-year-old will be attending Mesa State University on a full-ride scholarship. Bronfield said he called his grand-uncle, the man he calls “Dad” who lives in Honduras, as soon as he heard he got it, and they both cried. “He doesn’t know what college is, but I promised him that I would get a degree, and so far I haven’t broken any promises yet, which means I have to get a degree,” Bronfield said. After college, he said he wants to become a high school Spanish teacher because he loves his native language.
“He’s really good with people actually,” Wray said. “He knows everyone. Everybody knows him.”The senior surveys have not been tallied yet, but Hester said he thinks there is a wider range of students going on to post-secondary education.”They are continuing a tradition of going onto higher educational institutions that are very challenging,” he said, giving Georgetown and Columbia as examples. Vail local Toby Dawson was this year’s commencement speaker. Dawson, a skiier who won a bronze medal at the 2006 winter Olympics, told the graduates to focus on their passion and to remember that only they can motivate themselves.
English teacher Nick Loetscher banished the idea of a dull gradution speech when he entertained the crowd with his humorous thoughts on poetry and the word “ambiguity.” He even sang a line from a Beatles song: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.””Oh Loetscher, that’s just old hippie wisdom. That’s the drugs talking,” said Loetscher, imitating his students’ reaction, which elicited whistles and claps from the audience.He also told the seniors’ parents not to worry too much about feeling empty-nest syndrome.”They’ll be back when the credit cards max out and they need a place to crash in the basement and do their laundry,” he said.
After those speeches, awards were presented to teachers and seniors, and senior Cindy Villegas delivered an address in Spanish. Two teachers retiring this year, Kathryn Benysh and Eric Smith, were also acknowledged. Nic Corbett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgVail, Colorado
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