VMS graduates take life’s next steps | VailDaily.com

VMS graduates take life’s next steps

VAIL – Everyone associated with Vail Mountain School, village that it is, had a hand in raising the 21 seniors who graduated Friday.

The 21 walked in, positively aglow, carrying their caps and gowns – the young men wore suits; the young women wore dresses. They lined up across the front of the Marriott’s huge ballroom, facing the smiling and adoring crowd.

Entering with the graduates came a group of underclassmen, who helped them don their caps and gowns, knowing they’d soon wear their own caps and gowns.

The seniors took the stage and the bittersweet evening began.

Graduating senior Sophia Friedman welcomed the crowd.

“In a short 90 minutes, the 21 of us will walk off this stage with our tassel hanging to the right, a yellow rose and our diploma in our hand,” Friedman said.

Yes, it takes a village, but they believe that the village should also raise itself. Upper school students mentor lower and middle school students at Vail Mountain School. It is tradition.

Friday, for example, the kindergartners were all part of field day, participating on teams captained by seniors. For the graduation ceremony, those kindergartners each carried a yellow rose to one of the seniors on stage.

Then their families walked to the stage to present the graduates their diplomas, a tradition dating almost back to the day Vail Mountain School opened its doors.

As field day began Friday, the seniors planted a crabapple tree with the entire student body, their class gift. It’ll last a lifetime, theirs and probably others, and will be there when they return home to where their hearts are.

Lauren Zdechlik explained that the tradition began in 1992, “Two years before I was born.”

They honored their students and staff with awards for service to the school, the community, to one another.

Vali Wilcox , for example, was one four graduates in the first VMS graduating class in 1966. She returned to teach at VMS and was honored last night for 10 years of service.

Her daughter, Chanda Wilcox, was the first child of a graduate to also graduate VMS.

“We have been privileged in an insular and secure environment, and that has served us well in our youth,” said graduating senior Christian Julin.

But now, Julin said, it’s time to take life’s next steps.

They were ready. The VMS village made sure of it.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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