Graduating with grit: Battle Mountain celebrates the resiliency of its class of 2022
Huskies graduates are “Feeling 22” after Friday night ceremony
VAIL — Resiliency, grit and finding joy in challenging times were all themes at Battle Mountain High School’s 2022 Commencement Ceremony. And almost as if an exclamation point to this message, the sun found its way through rain clouds just as the ceremony got underway Friday evening.
On Friday, the local high school sent off its 235 graduating seniors from the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and into the next stage of their life, commending them for making it through the ups and downs of the last several years.
“The challenges we faced, the challenges that are in front of us and the challenges we do not even foresee are overcome with resilience,” said Daniel Spottheim, a social studies teacher at the school, during his jokes-filled commencement speech. Spottheim was selected by the students to give this year’s address.
“Even though you may think that over the past four years opportunities were taken, liberty was restricted, what was supposed to happen didn’t, it all is overcome by an attribute that we all actually developed during the worst pandemic that all of us have been through. So take the good with the bad and understand all of you are more resilient because of what we collectively went through,” he continued.
This collective power, Spottheim said, was even more valuable in the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. Following his speech, which he said was written ahead of Tuesday, Spottheim took time to address the “horrific event.”
“School is so much more than classes. It’s about connections, positive social interactions, seeking to understand others and reaching out to help others,” Spottheim said. “Let all of us, as Eagle Countians, take a moment to look around at each other in order to feel the true power of our community, right here, right now, the amount of love, fellowship and collective joy that brings us together as we come to celebrate not only the graduating seniors, but ourselves as a community.”
For the graduating class, overcoming the challenges of their four years in high school was not only difficult, but rewarding as well.
Student Body President Lilian Marley Lindner applauded the class for enduring the unimaginable — all while persevering, exceeding limits and having fun.
“I’m sure you’ve heard once or twice before, but we pushed through a pandemic regardless of hardship, the unexpected, and thousands of ups and downs. It was a daunting task and certainly was not easy, but these students continued to accomplish academic, social, and emotional success every day through trying times,” Marley Lindner said.
Navigating high school, especially through the last four years, Marley Lindner added, required “utmost grit,” something this class of students gained from their high school experiences, from their teachers, from each other and from overcoming the challenges the world threw their way.
Specifically, Marley Lindner said the students learned “real grit” from AP Government teacher Mr. Ballay, who “happened to survive open heart surgery and ultimately defied all odds of the medical world.”
However, amid the challenges, memories of joy, celebration and laughter also showed through for the class of 2022.
For Principal Jason Mills “rushing the field after beating Aspen in the 10th Mountain Division Showdown football game” was a standout memory from his first official year as principal of the school.
For others these memories included adding state championships in hockey, skiing, and speech and debate; having pep rallies and dances, and as the class Valedictorian Elliott Jarnot put it, returning their senior year to “loud, bustling classes, fun and full extracurricular activities, energetic students and faculty, full crowds at sporting events.”
Overall, through the good and the bad, the class of 2022 is leaving high school with an understanding of how to deal with the certain changes life brings.
“At this juncture in our lives, the only thing staying the same is that everything is always changing,” Jarnot said. “Whatever path you have elected to take, do not be afraid of the change that precedes you. Instead, take it on with the strength and vigor with which you faced your time at Battle Mountain.”
Embodying the qualities of a Battle Mountain husky — perseverance, respect,
integrity, diversity, and excellence — Mills said that the graduating finished their final year not only strong, but prepared.
“Continue to dig deep in life through the challenges and opportunities and through the successes and failures. More importantly, continue to dig deep in your relentless pursuit to be you,” Mills said.
And with a vote of confidence from the school’s staff, teachers and faculty, Battle Mountain High School’s class of 2022 turned their tassels, threw their caps and strode into their next big challenge.
“Class of 2022, I can’t wait to see where your grit takes you,” Marley Lindner said.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.