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Scorpion Graduates Celebrate, Score with Outdoor Graduation

The sting of COVID-19 prevented some of the usual end-of-year senior festivities to take place as planned, but the Sand Creek High School Scorpions Class of 2020 finally celebrated in an outdoor graduation ceremony at UCHealth Park June 26.

Britney Tran, Salutatorian, addresses the SCHS Class of 2020 at graduation.

Graduates sat socially-distanced in seats spaced six feet apart in the outfield, while parents and family members filled the stands of the baseball stadium to honor the accomplishments of the class. As planners hoped, the El Paso County Department of Public Health relaxed restrictions for some gatherings, allowing each graduate to invite six family members to the delayed, yet monumental event. 

Abby Teeples, senior class president, welcomed fellow classmates to the ceremony with remarks reflecting on their last few months of high school spent in quarantine. “It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.”

Overcoming adversity and recognizing the personal achievement of graduation resonated with several graduates, including Mara Jade Smith. Mara was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bones, and in her short life she’s already broken more bones than she and her family can remember. “I never thought I would graduate on stage, but I’m glad I get to,” Mara shared. “I like being able to officially finish high school, and I tell others we need to hold onto our memories.”

Mara Jade Smith is one of many SCHS graduates celebrated June 26.

Class Valedictorian Mikayla Lee recognized her class for showing resilience. “Our senior year can be seen as a series of unfortunate events due to canceled plans we had hoped for our entire lives,” she shared. “The adversities we have faced this year represent our abilities to keep pushing no matter what is thrown our way. Each human sitting here has made it past hard days, making it to today.”

Salutatorian Britney Tran and Elected Class Speaker Ezekiel Ford also shared remarks during the ceremony. Ezekiel reminded his classmates they are all in this together. “Together, we are bolder, braver, stronger. Together, we are Sand Creek Scorpions.”

Originally, the Class of 2020 would have graduated in a May 23 ceremony. Despite the delay created by Coronavirus health concerns and restrictions, families agreed the wait was worth it. “This moment is amazing, and I am beyond excited,” said Johnnie Brunson, father of Graduate Isaiah Brunson.

SCHS graduates celebrate their achievement June 26.

“Staff have been working so hard to make this happen, and I know they love these kids,” said Shaunna Walewski, mother of Graduate Rebecca Walewski. “I give props to D49 for trying to make it special for the kids.”

To conclude the ceremony, Audra Lane, SCHS campus director, prompted the class members to turn their tassels together from the right side to the left, symbolizing their transition from student to graduate. Family members applauded and blew horns in support of the milestone moment. “I got a little teary-eyed when they moved their tassels,” shared Elisabeth Ellis, mother of Mara Jade Smith.

To see the full album of photos, click on the Facebook image below.

SCHS Graduation Facebook Album

Amy Matisek