Vail Mountain School class of 2019 off to chase the impossible
40 graduates flip their tassels on Friday at Ford Amphitheater in Vail
Vail Mountain School Class of 2019
Bobby Bolyard, Maggie Sturm, Audrey Howell, Maru Payen, Anwyn Urquhart, Kate Kirwood, Andie Billingsley, Hannah Lautenberg, Bridget Donovan, Emma Blakslee, Carly Lloyd, George Savin, Nellie Smith, Mel McCalley, Millie Zhu, Kailin Kerzner, Chloe Pesso, Hannah Hopkins, Jack Burch, Sammy Gish, Ripley Stone, Lauren Dirvonas, Lamar Campbell, Cameron Bill, Garrett Sampson, Tim Herwig, Sarah Evans, Maddy Cooper, Ava Cunningham, Shane Cole, Kate Stavisky, Robert Harnick, Nathan Rouaud, Will Richey, Ian Hardenbergh, Peter Littman, Henry Heaydon, Theo Marston, Cameron Wolfe, Chris Davis
VAIL — The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.
But Vail will always be home.
Or, as graduate Samantha Gish so eloquently put it in the original song that she performed at Friday’s commencement at Ford Amphitheater: “I’m not sure what I’ll do without you by my side, but I know home is one short ride.”
Strumming her ukulele, Gish also told her classmates that “you’ll set the world on fire.”
That’s hard to argue, given everything that the 40 members of the class of 2019 accomplished during their time together in East Vail. From backcountry hut adventures and school ski days to class trips to New York and Washington D.C. to service projects, athletic triumphs and moving performances on the stage, not to mention all of their rigorous academic work, these Gore Rangers are ready to take on the world.
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‘Chase the impossible’
In his senior address, Cameron Wolfe recited some lines from the children’s classic, “The Phantom Tollbooth,” to challenge his classmates to pursue the impossible as they embark on their post-grad journeys.
“How are we going to leave a mark on the world?” Wolfe said. “Much like King Azaz and the Mathemagician said, by pursuing your goals fervently, you will find that so many things thought to be impossible are possible as long as you believe they are possible.”
Wolfe, who received the school’s award for Outstanding Evidence of Intellectual Curiosity before giving his address, ended with this: “Now it is time to embark on our journey into the unknown, and I urge you to take the path less traveled. Choose to chase after what is perceived to be impossible, for it is the struggle against the impossible that produces outstanding people.”
Audrey Howell was honored with the Award for Citizenship. Fellow graduate Kate Stavitsky said Howell “exudes elegance” and “inspires her peers to act as role models.”
Anwyn Urquhart was honored for Service to the School Community. Among other things, Urquhart was a familiar face at the Eagle River Valley Food Bank and also volunteered her time for Pink Vail, which raises money to fight cancer.
Carly Lloyd and Shane Cole took home Scholar Athlete honors. Lloyd was a standout on the volleyball court and a member of the VMS soccer team that went all the way to the 3A state quarterfinals this spring. Cole was a soccer captain and a standout lacrosse player as well as the state’s best prep skier, claiming the slalom and giant slalom titles this past winter.
Emma Blakslee took home the highest honor given to a graduating senior, the Sally Johnston Award, which is voted on by VMS faculty. Johnston, introduced as the “keeper of the history of VMS,” pioneered many of the school’s traditions that persist to this day.
In presenting the award, Johnston said Blakslee “capitalized on all that VMS has to offer” and exuded the “kindness, loyalty and maturity” that are hallmarks of the award.
“We’re still trying to find something that she doesn’t excel at,” Johnston quipped.
Back to the beginning
Before tassels were turned and mortar boards were flung into the crisp air on a sunny spring afternoon, the members of the Thirteeners Club — the 15 students who attended VMS all the way from kindergarten to graduation — were honored.
After reciting a poem with tidbits about each member of the club, senior Sarah Evans signed off by saying: “After 13 years, this journey has come to an end. I am so very grateful to call each one of you a friend.”
The members of the Thirteeners Club are: Emma Blakslee, Shane Cole, Madelyn Cooper, Christopher Davis, Ava Cunningham, Sarah Evans, Samantha Gish, Ian Hardenbergh, Bridget Donovan, Hannah Hopkins, Theo Marston, Kate Kirwood, Ripley Stone, Chloe Pesso and Cameron Wolfe.