If anyone who has ever worked at Paonia High School knows the students of the graduating class of 2013, knows their work ethics, their habits, their accomplishments, their quirks, and even their families, it's Cindy Swartzendruber.
"Ms. Swartz," as she is known, retired as assistant principal and guidance counselor in 2011, after 28 years at PHS.
She remains active in the school and in the lives of her students. She was selected as commencement speaker for the class of 2013. Ms. Swartz took time to acknowledge the many accomplishments of the class in academics, sports, music, speech and drama, and in their personal lives.
Fourteen graduates are members of the National Honor Society. The class received offers of $1,040,000 in scholarships and grants. All 34 graduates, 18 girls and 16 boys, have plans to further their education. Some already have.
Class co-valedictorians were Chelsy Lorin Reed and Abbygail Clair Campbell, and salutatorian was Alexis Joy Johnson.
The Rockwell Cup, a 105-year old tradition at PHS, is given to the all-around outstanding male and female student as voted on by the student body. This year's cups went to Jacob Russell Helleckson and Mandy Renae Bushta.
Lindsey Prendergrast presented the cups, and added a bit of history: "Our two Rockwell winners today both have older siblings that graduated from PHS, and both of those siblings were also Rockwell winners," said Prendergrast. "We have here not one, but two, Rockwell legacies. Perhaps the first at our school."
This year's P-Blanket, which goes to the outstanding male and female athletes, went to Tyler James "TK" Kendall (football, wrestling, baseball and one season of basketball) and Chelsy Reed (cross-country, basketball, track).
This class has had so many impacts on the school, said Swartzendruber. They've been involved in four state athletic championships, all-state choir, speech and drama, and so much more.
Not only that, "They have done tremendous things on their own, outside of school," said Swartzendruber, acknowledging volunteer firefighters Jacob Leon and Auston Redding, and EMT Nathan Kroschel; Chelsy Reed was the Colorado State Fair fashion champion and "has designed almost every single dress she's ever worn." One day, said Ms. Swartz, the Oscars will be on and the best-dressed won't be wearing a Vera Wang or Ralph Lauren design, "but a Chelsy Reed."
She credited the class for being smart and having a lot of common sense. "You're not only good athletes and good academics, you're good people."
Look at the lower corner of the mural of the Eagle on wall of junior high gym, "Way down in corner, it says, 'Class of 2013.' This group of kids earned the money to hire to have that done."
"The world needs them," said Ms. Swartz. "It needs problem-solvers."
She acknowledged that good jobs are hard, but not impossible, to come by. "It will take a lot of hard work. For every job that you apply for there's going to be 300 other applicants. For everything that you want... there will be lots and lots of other people who will want it."
She urged graduates to, "Set yourself apart.... Find way to distinguish yourself through hard work. And I know you've heard that over and over and over, but it's the truth. Think about it. Having good work ethic has no prerequisites. None. Doesn't matter who you are, you can set yourself apart if you work hard."
For those with dreams of playing for the NFL, "Unless you weigh 300 pounds and you're 6-5, I don't think so." But those professional teams are just businesses, she said. Look for career opportunities within those businesses.
Success will come with hard work, she said. "I have no doubt that Chelsy will be in design, that Ce'rra (Carsten) and Abby (Campbell) will be in agriculture."
"Volunteer. There are so many people today who just want to do the minimum. Never, ever be satisfied with the minimum."
She urged graduates to be responsible for their lives, and their happiness. For the first 18 years, it's been the responsibility of parents, teachers and other to provide them happiness. "But graduates, from this day forward, your happiness is your responsibility."
She urged them to continue doing what's right, even if it's not easy. "Tuck away those little moments when you did the right thing. One day, you may see you have a long way to go to reach your goals, but you're a happy person. All those moments tucked away and you'll be happy."
Swartzendruber's comments, and her presentation of individualized gifts-the ultimate first-aid kit for Lane Clawson, who was always limping from a sports injury; buttons for Chelsy Reed to sew on; 8-track tapes (but no 8-track tape player) for musicians and vocalists Alexis Joy Johnson, Ethan Alexander Ferguson and Jacob Russell Helleckson; a stylish hat made of duct tape for Mandy Renae Bushta-brought both laughter and tears to the class, and to the audience.
"Thank you," she said before receiving a standing ovation, "for the 100s of miles that you have run preparing yourselves for those track meets. Thank you for the sweat that you wrestlers endured crab-walking up and down the halls every day. Thank you for those basketballs that you bounced and bounced and the... baskets that you shot, and the bats that you swung. Thank you for the years that it took to perfect that instrument or hone that voice. Thank you for the joy that you have brought your parents. Thank you for the joy that you have brought me.
"I wish you happiness."blog comments powered by Disqus