Gibbs to graduates: ‘Follow your passions’ |

Gibbs to graduates: ‘Follow your passions’

summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

FARMERS KORNER ” Summit High School’s Class of 2009 will be remembered for its spontaneity and solidarity in addition to intellect and accomplishment.

Speaking at Saturday’s commencement ceremony, SHS Student Body President Hayden Hedman used the theme of unity to honor the special group of graduates.

“We will always sing together,” he said, cueing the cap-and-gown-clad group of 199 into an original anthem involving bubbles.

He said the class, which started several “customs and traditions” like “Beard-tober, Mustache March and Mullet May” has been deeply involved in school-related activities.

State Sen. Dan Gibbs, who gave the keynote address, recalled his time as a “nervous high-school senior” who figured the world’s problems seemed to complex to face.

But he said childhood encounters with President Jimmy Carter in Gunnison had inspired him to ultimately pursue public service.

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“I decided I wanted to be part of the process,” Gibbs said.

He said he feels like he’s never had to work a day in his life, because he’s always enjoyed his vocations (which include work in the timber industry and managing a whitewater rafting company).

His advice to the class was to find “success in passion and not just a paycheck.”

“The world needs more people doing what they love,” he said, adding that in the changing global economy the United States needs “young, innovative leaders and new thinkers.”

Gibbs also said that one needn’t run a large business or be a “charity-focused rock star to make a difference in the world.”

Class salutatorian Wilton Snead said his class is comprised of people who would be happy to sign something thoughtful even in a stranger’s yearbook.

“We are all friends,” he said. “There are no cliques in our school.”

Principal Drew Adkins said the school won’t be the same since this years seniors graduate, for their accomplishments will leave lasting changes.

“Like our Fourteeners and highest peaks, refuse to be average,” he encouraged the graduates.

Assistant principal Gretchen Nies said the class of 2009’s accolades include scoring above the worldwide average on International Baccalaureate Diploma Programmes, earning several state and regional awards and having 17 state-qualifying athletic teams as well as two national appearances.

She said the diverse class includes students from “Mexico, Guatemala, Senegal, California, Indiana and various other places” in addition to lifelong locals.

“Put useful tools in your toolbox,” she said. “The better your tools, the better your chances.”

In her valedictorian address, Ali Hartley said she wants “all of us to realize our potentials.”

“We are not defined by stereotypes or what others think of us,” she said.

She closed her speech with a quote from the band Rise Against: “Let’s unwrite these pages and replace them with our own words.”