‘We’re the COVID class:’ Battle Mountain seniors celebrate graduation | VailDaily.com

‘We’re the COVID class:’ Battle Mountain seniors celebrate graduation

Class motto ’could be worse’ sums up seniors’ attitudes

Miles Jarnot, Battle Mountain Class of 2021 valedictorian, gives a speech during commencement Saturday in Vail.
Chris Dillmann photo/cdillmann@vaildaily.com

When Battle Mountain High School Class of 2021 Valedictorian Miles Jarnot first heard his class motto, “Could be worse,” he laughed it off as typical sarcasm.

“But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how fitting it actually is,” Jarnot said while speaking at the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday. “We’ve constantly heard from all around us how terrible this year must be, and how much we’re missing out on, but I haven’t actually heard this attitude from our classmates.”

Instead, Jarnot saw the senior class make the most of an unusual situation, learning many things that the class “couldn’t have learned in a normal year,” he said.

Principal Robert Parish said the class learned the skill of finding resolve during tough situations.

“And you can always rely on this important skill and quality for the rest of your life,” Parish told the class.

A packed house greets Battle Mountain High School grads Saturday at the school’s 2021 commencement ceremony at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail.
Chris Dillmann photo/cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Full house

The school returned to Vail’s Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for the commencement ceremony, and organizers brought in a sign language interpreter for the first time this year.

A packed house greeted the graduating class of 218 seniors, some of whom didn’t attend class in person during the 2020-21 school year.

“I haven’t even seen some of you since March last year,” Jarnot said to his classmates. “But I know that we all still went through this together.”

In her charge to class address, Alden Pennington acknowledged that some of the class was likely wishing they could be attending via Zoom, “so you can turn off your camera and continue doing whatever it is you’re doing, pretending you’re listening.”

‘The things you take for granted’

But Pennington said she was thankful for the fact that the class was able to gather for graduation, after seeing last year’s seniors unable to hold a large commencement in Ford Amphitheater, a Battle Mountain tradition.

The fact that nothing, not even your high school’s graduation tradition, is certain in life, was a theme among the students who spoke.

Frances Farrell gives the commencement speech during Battle Mountain High School's graduation ceremony Saturday at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail. Chris Dillmann photo/cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Commencement speaker Frances Farrell encouraged her fellow seniors to never pass up an opportunity.

“We know better than anyone how quickly the things you take for granted every day can get ripped out from under you,” she said.

Jarnot said as things return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the class of 2021 in particular will be more likely to make the most of every opportunity.

“We know that nothing is guaranteed,” he said.

But one thing from the recent past will likely stay with the seniors forever, Jarnot said.

“I think we’re more than just the next graduating class,” he said. “We’re the COVID class, and we’ll be remembered for it.”

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