Sun shines on Eagle Valley graduates |

Sun shines on Eagle Valley graduates

Graduates of Eagle Valley High School Class of 2015 switch their tassels to the left side of their caps at the end of their graduation ceremony Saturday. Hundreds gathered on the sunny morning in Gypsum to celebrate the graduating seniors.
Chelsea Tuttle|Vail Daily |

GYPSUM — God loves everyone all the time, but on graduation day, he loves those delightful young people in the square hats most of all.

That’s how you explain the rain, or lack of it at Eagle Valley High School’s commencement Saturday morning.

It might be a metaphor for everything the grads were told: Take chances. Sometimes things go your way.

Eagle Valley made the call to hold commencement outside, as they do every year, and for a few hours Saturday morning, the skies were blue.

“The graduation ceremony is a time-honored tradition,” said Greg Doan, Eagle Valley principal.

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Because it was outside, it gave emotional parents a little cover when explaining the tears in their eyes.

“I have sunscreen in my eyes,” said one dad.

Speaking of parents, this commencement was the first event on the newly-named John Ramunno Field. Ramunno is retiring after 35 years as Eagle Valley’s football coach. The youngest of his five children, Mike Ramunno, graduated with Eagle Valley’s Class of 2015.

Everyone’s special day

Then again, it’s everyone’s special day, said Miles Petterson, co-valedictorian with Natalie Morrissey.

“Tomorrow we’ll be one of 3.3 million high schools graduates. We shouldn’t feel special because we’re graduating,” Petterson said. “We should feel special because we’re graduating from Eagle Valley High School.”

Morrissey will attend the U.S. Naval Academy. She was a standout gymnast, but broke her back while competing at the Junior Olympics when she was 14.

“When you find yourself weak, as I once did, remember it is not the road to failure; it is the road to success,” she said.

Salutatorian Morgan Genelin pointed out that plans often change, like hers.

“All through high school I aimed to be third in the class. Smart, but I wouldn’t have to give a speech at graduation,” she told her fellow grads, adding that those plans changed when Morrissey and Petterson tied for the top spot. “I learned that when our plans change, don’t be discouraged. Our plans will change for the rest of our lives.”

Justin Brandt, EVHS science teacher, recalled the time he blew up a beach ball at his own high school graduation in 2002.

One of the biggest smiles of his life was last Friday when he walked up to the school and saw every tree adorned with toilet paper as part of this year’s senior prank. He recalled when he was in high school convincing one of his friends to toilet paper his own house, because he thought the guy’s sister was cute.

“And she was cute. I ended up marrying her,” he said.

“I’m sorry I made you cry in physics class … I’m sorry I took your food,” he told the graduates, but he did not promise he wouldn’t do it again.

Passions, Brandt said, are not that difficult to find.

“If you can’t find what you’re passionate about, look around and see needs,” he said. “What about, instead of asking, ‘What can I get?’ You ask ‘What can I give?’ The most successful are people who are sold out to something that is larger than them.”

In his charge to the class, Doan took an epic selfie with the entire class.

“I want to remind my friends in Kansas that wherever they are, it’s not here, with the students of Eagle Valley High School,” he told the graduates.

Doan was Eagle Valley’s brand new principal four years ago when the Class of 2015 turned up as freshmen.

“The other classes perceived that I liked you more because we came in together. They were right. I did!” he said.

“You were always willing to try, and learn, and experiment. You were the first to learn that you cannot high jump over a low bar,” he said.

As the diplomas were handed out, Doan took a moment to take a portrait with each graduate, smiling for the last as broadly as the first, as every graduate grinned from ear to ear.

The Select Choir performed the class song, One Republic’s “I Lived.” The song’s hook is “I did it all,” and they have — so far.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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