Vail Christian High School celebrates Class of 2022
Saturday commencement recognizes 35 new graduates
Whimsical notes of “Highland Cathedrals” shot out from Sean Michael Patrick’s bagpipe at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Saturday morning to signal a celebration of the excellence, faith and character of Vail Christian High School’s Class of 2022.
Faculty, staff and a line of colorfully decorated caps made their way down the aisle, onto the stage and into their seats for a heartfelt invocation by Vice Principal Dan Mysnkyk.
“I pray that by receiving their diplomas today, Vail Christian High School has accomplished their mission of preparing these students for lives of purpose, service and leadership,” Mysnkyk said
Next, the crowd rose again as graduate Chloe Hornbostel de Moura e Silva took the stage to sing the national anthem before Head of School Steve O’Neil offered his opening remarks.
“Graduation in Beaver Creek, at the Vilar, with bagpipes, life doesn’t get much better, “ O’Neil began. After thanking parents and teachers, he turned to his students.
“I’m incredibly happy for you, I’m proud of you, but I am still sad to say goodbye. You will always be a Saint,” he said.
O’Neil then humbly bragged about the over $4.2 million in scholarships amassed by the class of 35 students, before humorously referencing their freshman yearbook and that one time his office was flooded by water balloons with faulty knots. As the funny memories built up, O’Neil brought it back to a more serious note.
“This is how we might reminisce though: Remember the class of 2022? They were persistent through the COVID shutdown. Sophomore year, and they rebounded,” he said. O’Neil went on to mention all the incredible things this group has accomplished in these challenging years.
After O’Neil finished with the opening, Salutatorian Colleen Farrell stepped up to the podium.
“I think the most important thing we learned is how to be true to ourselves,” Farrell said. “I, like many freshmen, entered high school trying to be someone I wasn’t. But I feel today I’m proud to be leaving it who I am.”
Valedictorian Audrey Deck was next to speak. “To all the incredible teachers that have taught us: Thank you for challenging us, educating us, and most importantly, teaching us about life,” Deck said to the teachers and staff, before thanking her fellow graduates for the memories.
“I would like to take a moment to congratulate each and every one of you, not only on graduating, but on your personal growth since we first met. I’m incredibly honored to stand here today and have the opportunity to speak on behalf of you,” Deck said.
After Deck spoke, everyone rose for the song of encouragement, “Unwritten,” by Natasha Bedingfield and performed by Kate Bolton, Taylor Hollander, Ava Garrison, Jillian Lee, Sam Shaub and Payton Vermeer.
Chad Fleischer, a two-time Olympian and 10-year veteran of the men’s US Alpine Ski Team, delivered the commencement speech. Fleischer, who is also a Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alum and Battle Mountain graduate, spoke of how taking risks following his high school career got him onto the Olympic stage.
“Risk is, and will, play a major role in your life, … and you will have to learn how to embrace it, not run from it,” Fleischer said. “Everything in life starts with a dream, and all of you graduating here today, you have your lives in front of you, and more importantly, your dream in front of you.”
Then, under the compelling acoustics of the Vilar, Director of College & Career Counseling Adina Petersmeyer proudly announced the names of 35 graduates as they accepted their diplomas from O’Neil, followed by joyous hugs, fist bumps and high-fives from Principal Mindy Larson. One graduate, Shilin Wang, accepted his diploma virtually from Shanghai, China.
After the students were done, the principal gleefully made the announcement: “Class of 2022, you may now turn your tassels,” Larson said.