When people hear what Sandi Spika Borchetta does for a living, they tell her how lucky she is.
Spika Borchetta was invited by co-valedictorian and student council officer Haley Donathan to give the keynote address Friday night during the 116th annual Delta High School commencement ceremony.
Spika Borchetta, whose mother was in the audience and whose niece, Megan Wheatley, was receiving her diploma, is a 1978 graduate of DHS. She is as big a name in design as the stars she has dressed: Reba McIntyre, Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw. She also calls them friends.
“I am so lucky,” Spika Borchetta told the 130 graduates preparing to make a life of their own. But a lot more than luck is required to make one’s goals and dreams come true. She referred to a quote from her senior yearbook, written by teacher Richard Doherty, who was in attendance: “Luck is 95 percent hard work.”
“How hard are all of you willing to work to reach your goals?” she asked.
Students Amanda Hill and Ben Abbott introduced Spika as a former member of DHS student council, a student Rotarian, a varsity cheerleader and National Honor Society member. A graduate of the University of New Mexico, she has more than 25 years’ experience in the country music industry, and traveled with Reba McIntyre for 13 years. She is currently vice president of Big Machine Records, which signs some of the biggest names in country music.
Her address included personal pre-filmed messages from McIntyre, McGraw and others on luck and how to succeed. “Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity,” said Eric Logan, president of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Messages also came from Danielle Bradbery, winner of season four of The Voice, who had to overcome shyness to succeed, and the band Motley Crue, which has enjoyed country music success for 38 years.
Tim McGraw, wearing pajamas and cowboy boots while sitting comfortably in front of a blazing fire, didn’t urge students to go skydiving or ride a bull named Fu Man Chu. But he did tell the class that he has found that the harder he works, “the luckier I get.”
The most accomplished DHS graduates also touched on the theme. “Time is luck, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” said salutatorian Sarah Stalcup. “Make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what, because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?”
“I’m here to say yay! We’re graduating and we’re all going to fail,” said co-salutatorian Julia Stinson. But failure is exciting and “is an integral part of this life experience. Failure is how we learn to do it better, or simply do it differently next time.” To be great, she said, “sometimes we have to keep going, even when life seems impossibly hard.”
Co-valedictorian Ridge Green told classmates that they have already found success. “We made it,” Green said. “We started from the bottom and now, we are here.” Green recognized fellow students and the community that helped them get to this point, but reminded graduates that they are “simply in transition.”
They are transitioning quickly. Of the 130 graduates, 90 will pursue higher education and were offered a total of $1,990,350 in scholarships. Fifty-three students plan to pursue a four-year degree, 37 will attend a two-year institution, 14 will seek a one-year degree, and 22 plan to join the work force. Four have chosen to join the armed forces.
Nineteen plan to attend out of state schools including Drexel University, St. Olaf College, and Cornell University. Students will study nursing, cosmetology, criminal justice, physical therapy, engineering, geology, medicine, and yes, music.
“With the real world comes uncertainty,” said co-valedictorian Haley Donathan. “We never know if the decisions we make are actually the correct ones. We just have to trust God and hope that everything works out.”
Green admitted that when he entered DHS, he couldn’t wait to get out. But now, he understands that he and his classmates were in the best place possible, and that the path to excellence shouldn’t end with graduation. “As we leave DHS behind us we are now moving in to the bright futures that the community had spent years preparing us for.” Don’t forget, said Green, “We are representatives of Delta, Colo., from here on out.”
Spika Borchetta ended her address by urging students to write their dreams on the insides of their eyelids. “In the university of life listen to your voice,” she said. “What is written on the insides of your eyelids.”