Vail Christian graduates 25 seniors in memorable commencement featuring comedian Michael Jr.
Class of 2021 celebrates the completion of a challenging year in weathering the COVID-19 pandemic
Vail Christian on Sunday enjoyed what will likely be regarded as one of the most memorable commencement services in the high school’s 22 years in Eagle County.
The Class of 2021 had the use of Vail’s Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for the first time in its history, and made good use of the deluxe venue with music and laughter.
Graduates also celebrated the completion of a challenging year in weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salutatorian Grace McCurdy said her senior year could be summed up by saying the word “ugh,” which she used as an acronym for three terms which come to mind when thinking about 2020/21 – unique, growth, hard work.
Valedictorian Kendelle Smith described her classmates as having “unimaginable strength” in their ability to see failure as a necessary step toward success. In embracing what lies ahead for the group, Smith told her classmates “we get to keep failing forward in this next season of growth, challenge and adventure.”
Vail Christian Head of School Steve O’Neil, after listening to the opening procession from bagpiper Alex McIntosh, said McIntosh’s song choices – “Highland Cathedral” and “Green Hills of Tyrol” – were particularly apropos for this year.
“In many ways these battle songs represented the year we just went through,” O’Neil said.
In sharing the accomplishments of the Class of 2021, O’Neil said the 25 graduating seniors had amassed $3.5 million in merit scholarships.
“In the schools that you’re attending, you’ve knocked $18,000, on average, off that tuition bill, just on merit scholarships alone,” O’Neil told the class.
And while acknowledging that the day was about them, O’Neil pointed out that the Vail Christian seniors will join a group of nearly 500 Vail Christian alumni “here in the Vail Valley and around the world, doing amazing things.”
One such alumnus is Mack MacCutcheon, a graduate of the Class of 2004. MacCutcheon became the agent for comedian Michael Jr., and the two have enjoyed success in the stand-up circuit. Michael Jr. has also authored a book, “Funny How Life Works.”
MacCutcheon reflected on his own graduation from Vail Christian High School, back when the school still used modular buildings.
MacCutcheon said he was “armed with an exceptional education, filled with hopes and dreams for the future.”
But his life turned out much differently than he expected in becoming the director of marketing and businesses development for a famous comedian who has been featured on “The Tonight Show” and other major venues across the country.
“God had other plans for me,” he said.
Michael Jr. delivered words of encouragement and wisdom between a non-stop barrage of jokes for about 30 minutes, riffing on everything from the bagpiper (“You kilt it), to the audio system in the venue (I’m not the only Black speaker on stage”). He said in taking on the gig, his motivation was to see the place from where his friend MacCutcheon traces his origins.
“If that guy right there is a product of this right here, then I’m all about it,” Michael Jr. said.
Vail Christian Class of 2021:
- Andres Ascencio
- Zoey Jo Barela
- Bergan Elizabeth Behr
- Malia Skye Braden
- Kylan Colby Brasington
- Tirin Jeff Cameron
- R. Langley Cerovich
- Maddy Mae Collom
- August Sophia Ford
- Margaret Mary Grems
- Katherina Hana Helle
- Reece Ashton Kohrmann
- Kaylie Romaine Kraft
- Grace Marie McCurdy
- Anamaria Montes De la Fuente
- Tristen Stone Mullin
- Jacob Mark Novak
- Slater Stephen O’Brien
- Julia Joy Petrik
- Carlotta Claudia Porter
- Mollie Grace Ritsch
- Kendelle Smith
- Sandra Jeanne Tellor
- Jaden Michael Webster
- Luke Spencer Woodland