‘I’m ready to go explore the world’ | VailDaily.com

‘I’m ready to go explore the world’

VAIL – Gladys Solis has some big steps in front of her.She’ll be going to college in the fall. So will her twin sister, Tanya. They’ll be the first in their family to attend college.But first, she had to take some little steps across the stage at Ford Amphitheater on Saturday. She accepted her diploma from Battle Mountain High School, graduating summa cum laude.”Our parents haven’t gone to college, so it’s a big step for us to go to college and get a better education,” said Gladys, who will attend Mesa State College. “They’re right there behind me, especially Mom. ‘Keep going, Gladys, we’re right there behind you.'”Gladys, Tanya and about 160 other seniors turned their tassels Saturday. They were Battle Mountain’s largest graduating class ever.This fall, Nicole Penwill, who also graduated summa cum laude, is headed to Washington University, where she plans to study medicine and play volleyball. She was a member of the Battle Mountain volleyball team that won a state championship this year.”We’re all really excited for what’s to come,” she said.For Penwill, the diversity of her class was one of its trademarks. There were people who were really interested in academics, and there were people who were really interested in snowboarding, she said. There were metal kids and hippies, she said. And they all mixed really well, she said.”If you put us in the same place, we all get along,” he said.Penwill attended Meadow Mountain Elementary School, Eagle County Charter Academy and Battle Mountain and has lived here her whole life. She wouldn’t mind returning to live here one day, she said, but for now, she wants to go other places.”I’m ready to go explore the world,” she said.Graduates decorated their caps with bright colors and designs – including lots of Vail Mountain logos.Hard rain and hail fell intermittently as the graduates heard words of wisdom from several speakers, including state Rep. Dan Gibbs.”If there’s no passion with what you do with your life, you’ll be on the sidelines,” he said.Travis Landauer, who is headed to Bucknell University, said it was bittersweet to say goodbye to his classmates.”You’re never going to see all these people together again,” he said. “It’s hard to believe it’s over, but we had a good run.”Jorge Balderas came to this country four years ago from Mexico, and he graduated Saturday from Battle Mountain. He is going to Colorado Mountain College to study engineering.”It’s been a great experience, especially because I learned a lot,” he said. “Not only did I learn a new language, but I also learned to be more responsible, learned to be a better man.”Saturday was a milestone for him, Balderas said.”It’s like a chapter that closes in my life,” he said. “A big transition. You’re turning from a young man into a real one.”In her speech, Student body President Rebecca Richardson quoted some authors of big books but ultimately had plain, pointed words for her classmates.”Good luck, 2007, and game on,” she said.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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