Eagle Valley’s ‘Chill’ class chases the cold from their commencement | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley’s ‘Chill’ class chases the cold from their commencement

Senior Brant Johnson gave the Honorary Senior Address, which students auditioned for, during Eagle Valley's Class of 2017 Graduation on Saturday in Gypsum. Johnson's sister, PFC Athantasy Johnson, who is stationed in Washington with the Army, surprised Johnson after his speech on the field at Eagle Valley. Brant said he did not know she was coming, and almost walked past her when he left the stage after his speech.
Nicole Dewell|Special to the Daily |

GYPSUM — Eagle Valley’s Class of 2017 calls itself “The Chill Class.”

“Pretty ironic, given the weather,” Salutatorian Lindsay Martinez said, joking.

Valedictorian Marika Feduschak had jokes prepared to poke fun at the normally hot and sunny weather.

“Clearly Colorado doesn’t want us to graduate,” Feduschak joked.

As the 156 members of Eagle Valley’s Class of 2017 stood to receive their diplomas, the clouds rolled back and the sun shone down … bright, but still not quite as bright as the smiles of the graduates themselves.

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The senior musicians performed “Unwritten,” by Natasha Bedingfield.

“I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined / I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned.”

You’re not alone

No one gets here by themselves, and Feduschak thanked her family and friends for her success. She said some of her success is because she’s white and did not have to deal with some of the hardships faced by classmates who are not.

Feduschak said graduation is, so far, one of the biggest moments of their lives. She challenged her classmates to live a life that makes this day seem, looking back, such as macaroni art from kindergarten.

“It’s crazy that in the past year we’ve had to decide who we are,” she said.

They thought they had it all figured out, Martinez said. They didn’t, and thanked some of their teachers for helping them to that realization, and for making them think that every cut or bloody nose might be Ebola.

They also called themselves Master Procrastinators.

“I’d like to say I took this too much to heart and wrote this speech last night. But I’m the Salutatorian. I wrote it two nights ago,” Martinez said, smiling.

They chose Walt Knight for their faculty address.

“It’s such an honor that I decided to get a haircut.” He pulled one hair from his shoulder-length silver locks and said, “This one!”

Knight is a writing teacher and storyteller.

“Our stories are what we have in this life,” Knight said. “Let go of your fear of failure. Write your stories with love, passion and compassion.”

Then quoting an author from one of his many lessons, Knight said, “There is nothing I do well that I did not once do poorly.”

Sister surprise

Brant Johnson gave the Honorary Senior Address because he’s good at this sort of thing. He said some members of the Class of 2017 will play in the NFL, some will be veterinarians … “and I will bring back the ’80s.”

“And to my parents, I’m sorry you got so many phone calls my freshman and sophomore years,” he said.

His sister, Private First Class Athantasy Johnson, was on leave from Fort Lewis Washington and surprised her little brother as he left the stage. He said later he did not know she was there, and almost walked past her.

Principal Greg Doan explained, “There’s no such thing as a bad experience. Only experiences that end badly.”

Doan and Superintendent Jason Glass put a new twist on some old adages:

“There’s no I in Freshman.”

“Mind your Ds and Fs.” Meaning, your parents are paying for college.

“You cannot cover up a cough with a fart.” Meaning, you cannot cover up one mistake with another.

And the one plastered all across EVHS walls, “You cannot high jump over a low bar.”

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