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Class of 2016: SCHS Reflects on Successes, New Possibilities

Patricia Duke
Valedictorian Patricia Duke
Roughly 280 Sand Creel High School graduates received diplomas May 28 during a commencement ceremony at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.

“Now that we’re done with high school, each of you is going to go on your own path, and do great things,” said Kayli Adams, senior class president, speaking from the arena’s podium, facing hundreds of classmates and their families.

“We have our whole lives ahead of us,” said Adams. “And we have so many opportunities that are coming our way. Thank you for all the great memories. It’s been a pleasure growing up with all of you.”

“You have reached a milestone, and this ceremony is your right of passage,” said principal Ron Hamilton, urging the class of 2016 to continue to strive for excellence in their academic careers and personal lives.

“In the rush of pictures and parties,” said Hamilton, “and despite the distraction of cell phones that I know are buzzing in some of your pockets as I speak, I hope you will not miss the significance of this experience, or let it pass you by without pausing for a moment to reflect and take stock on what you’ve accomplished.”

“In the years to come, you will need to draw on the understanding of what graduation represents: That you are capable of great things,” he said.

“Who you are now does not encompass all that you will become. I encourage you to be open to the idea that you are still defining yourselves, and there is a lifetime for you to become the person you dream to be.”

“Honestly, this last year as a senior has been one hell of a ride,” said salutatorian Jenna Herzog.

“In reality, if we had free time, we didn’t ever really have free time,” said Herzog. “Every moment not spent doing homework or studying was spent preparing for our upcoming adulthood.”

“We’ve made more than enough memories to last us a lifetime, and we’ve only just begun,” she said. “We’ve come from places all over the country, and all over the world, and, again, this is just the beginning.”

“Remember your past, because every moment of your life so far has led you to this day. … And every moment is about to lead you onto your future. Never forget your potential. Remember that you are going to go on and do amazing things.”

Valedictorian Patricia Duke continued to put attention on individuality, talking about transitioning beyond high school, and “making the rules that we once followed.”

“Truthfully, when I think of a world with us in charge, I’m not scared. I’m thrilled,” said Duke.

“The world seems like a scary place, like a big place and a hard place to change,” she said. “But it’s just a lot of individual people. When even one individual is true to themselves, they can’t help but change the world.”

“Each of us is irreplaceable with our own special part to play. Be unique. Define yourself.”

“Over the years, we received a lot of labels to make us simpler and easier to categorize. We may be nerds or jocks, theater geeks, IB or AP, pretty, ugly, fat, skinny, popular or outcast … valedictorian, that’s a label. But it’s not who I am. And you are more than your labels, too.”

“Labels keep us separate, and we have to lose them so we can focus on what we have in common, and come together,” said Duke.

“Remember though that we don’t have to transcend labels so we can all be the same. We transcend labels so that we can be unique. We can overcome what divides us without losing what distinguishes us.”

“Don’t be afraid to step off the well worn paths. In fact, being yourself means breaking new ground, always. Because no one has ever been you before. And being you does change the world.”

“We are about to release 288 powerful, unique individuals onto the world,” she said, “and the world will be better for it.”

Dustin Senger