It’s all about family |

It’s all about family

Scott N. Miller
Preston Utley/Vail DailyKindergartners present yellow roses, a symbol of freindship, to the graduating seniors of 2005 Friday in Vail.

VAIL – When family’s involved, hugs get held a little stronger, a little longer. When family’s involved, the Sunday best doesn’t seem quite so confining.When family’s involved, the clock doesn’t matter so much.Friday’s graduation ceremony for Vail Mountain School was about family. But it was about more than moms, dads and grandparents well-wishing their favorite seniors into adulthood. At Vail Mountain School, everyone is family.”We’re saying goodbye to family,” senior Michael Schindel said in his remarks.At Vail Mountain, younger students are like brothers and sisters, and teachers and administrators are like parents, Schindel said.That’s why the whole school was represented.The seniors shared the stage with their younger classmates. Giving certificates of promotion to this year’s fifth and eighth graders, and handing out a host of awards to their classmates.This year’s kindergarten class got involved, too. A tradition at Vail Mountain is the senior class working with the youngest students, helping them learn about the traditions of the school as well as their ABCs. In return, every senior got a yellow rose and a big hug from at least one of the youngsters.But in the midst of the serious business, there was time for a smirk or two. Families are good at that, too.

As Kate Wear neared the end of her speech to present an award to the school’s outstanding student athlete, she started a nervous laugh.The standing room only crowd at the Marriott was let in on the joke when the award was presented to… Wear.Wear herself wasn’t in on the joke until she read it herself, since the award winners were kept secret until Friday’s ceremony.As tight-knit as the Vail Mountain School family is, there are high expectations for the members about to leave the nest.”You left my class with a legacy clearly defined: leadership,” junior Max Avery said in his message to the seniors. “You were never near the action, but in the action. You want to be more than friends, you want to be role models.”And, Avery said, no matter where this year’s seniors land, “You will emerge as leaders.”Family means there aren’t a lot of secrets, either.As school Headmaster Peter Abuisi introduced every graduate, he had a little anecdote about each one. It didn’t matter that the time reserved for the Marriott ballroom was already out before Abuisi introduced the graduates. He took his time, and gave each student and family the time required.”This is a class of character, and class of characters,” he said as Lia Zneimer’s family finished its group embrace.After the ceremony, the extended family bonded by a school was slow to leave. It can be hard to leave the nest.But parents and students agreed that the bond forged at Vail Mountain is a strong one.

“My classroom is right next to the kindergarten. It’s nice to be able to talk to them and make friends with the younger kids,” sophomore Chris Caples said.”The kids really do love and respect each other. The school brought that out in them,” said Steve Warren, the father of graduate Mary “Z” Warren. But families evolve.Amid the hugs and leftover tears in the hallway after the ceremony, graduate Pat Scanlan talked about his relationship with one of his teachers.”Mr. Ioli has gone from being a friend, to a father figure, and now he’s like a brother,” Scanlan said. “That’s the metamorphosis that takes place. And the interaction between the lower school and the upper school isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen.”It’s hard to leave a family like that. But in a good family, the ones who leave are usually ready to go, and always welcome back.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or

The class of ’05Graduates: 26Graduated headed to college: 26Closest college: University of DenverFarthest college: Bates College, Maine================Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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