Battle Mountain seniors urged to enjoy life’s journey |

Battle Mountain seniors urged to enjoy life’s journey

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyBattle Mountain graduating students show off their shared flair during their graduation ceremony Sunday at Ford Amphitheater in Vail

VAIL – Treat every day as an adventure.That was the message delivered by state Representative Mark Udall to Battle Mountain’s class of 2005 during commencement ceremonies at Ford Pavilion in Vail Sunday.Udall, a lifelong mountaineer, encouraged each of the 163 outgoing seniors to take risks in their daily lives as they moved on from high school.”I would challenge each of you graduates to live your lives like those of us who have lived our lives on high peaks in challenging situations,” he said. “I will tell you personally, I struggle, too. I struggle every day to find a way through. But I think the secret is to treat life as an adventure. … The only failures in life come from the unwillingness to make mistakes. That, and the failure to learn from your mistakes.”

Udall’s keynote address was preceded by a rousing Charge to Class speech by student favorite Pat Phelan, who has been teaching and coaching at Battle Mountain for 33 years. Phelan was later honored as the educator of the year, an award chosen by the students.In between his trademark humorous anecdotes, Phelan stressed to the graduating seniors that success in life could be broken down to three key words: Ability, motivation and attitude.”Remember, it’s important to have fun, too,” he said. Six senior awards were handed out before the presentation of the diplomas. There was also a somber moment of silence after friends Andrew Martinez, Joey Tafoya and Joe Valdez honored classmate Jerome Gallegos, who died in a car accident in December.

The senior awards for outstanding service to school were given to Katherine Lindbloom and Vincent Cisneros.Lindbloom’s long list of accolades included volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, serving on student council, performing in the spring play for four years, lettering in track and gymnastics and graduating Summa Cum Laude.Cisneros, who will attend Colorado Mountain College in the fall, was described as a “positive, friendly, welcoming force in the classroom” and “an important influence on his peers.””It was a good surprise,” Cisneros said of receiving the honor. “Honestly, I couldn’t tell you why they picked me. The award says ‘outstanding senior for service,’ but in reality the school did me the service.”Rolena Richardson and Austin Chow were named the class of 2005’s outstanding seniors.

Richardson, a Summa Cum Laude graduate, served as student body president and captain of the nationally ranked Huskies dance team. She also lettered in track and skiing and was a captain on the speech team. Chow, who also graduated Summa Cum Laude, will attend Princeton in the fall and will try to walk on the hockey team. He was the consensus pick as the state hockey player of the year by both Denver newspapers and also qualified for state in golf this past fall.”It’s definitely bittersweet,” said Richardson of graduation. “We’re all excited to start our adult lives and to go to college and meet a bunch of new people, but we’ll always remember where we come from and cherish all of the memories that we have here in the Vail Valley and at Battle Mountain.”Chow said he was also running through a range of emotions.

“It’s been a great ride,” he said. “I’m looking forward to just getting out and experiencing the world. Seeing what else is out there and meeting new people and having a great time. But, I’ll always keep the friends that I’ve got here.”The final senior awards for outstanding senior athletes went to Meagan Reigel and Grant Stevenson.Reigel competed in volleyball, basketball and track. Stevenson was also a three-sport athlete, competing in cross country, skiing and track. His most notable prep athletic feat was winning the state skimeister award this past winter – an honor given to the best all-around skier in Nordic and alpine competition.Sunday’s ceremony also featured four songs performed by Battle Mountain seniors and one original poem performed by Milton Walters.Walters’ poem, titled “From a Graduate’s Mind,” touched on the past and the present and drew rumbling cheers from classmates when he asked into the microphone, “Are you ready?”

“I’m on cloud nine right now,” said Walters, who will serve in the Navy after high school. “No drug in the world could get me as high as I am right now.”After the turning of the tassels and the traditional throwing of the caps, the stage at the pavilion transformed into a hug convention. There were smiles and tears and a frenzy of camera flashes.”It’s good to be done, but it’s interesting to leave all my friends behind,” said Anthony Scully, an aspiring filmmaker who will attend CU in the fall. “But, it’s for the best.”Added Liz Gladitsch, who will attend Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, “It was sad, because I’m leaving all my friends, but I get to start something new. I’m excited.”

The adventure begins.Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at, Colorado

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