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Celebrating graduation among the Rocky Mountain peaks

For the 2nd year in a row, The Peak School held its graduation ceremony at Copper Mountain Resort

Brielle Quigley, a graduating senior of The Peak School, holds onto to her graduation cap as she rides up the Super Bee chairlift with family members Thursday, May 27, at Copper Mountain Resort to receive her diploma. This is the second year The Peak School hosted its graduation ceremony at Copper.
Photo by Jason Connolly /Jason Connolly Photography
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Eleven graduates were celebrated Thursday, May 27, during The Peak School’s graduation ceremony at Copper Mountain Resort. Last year, the school held its graduation at the resort as a creative way to celebrate during the pandemic, and the tradition lived on this year.

When the pandemic forced high schools across the country to cancel rites of passage like prom and graduation, one local school got creative: The Peak School, based in Frisco, hosted its graduation ceremony on Copper’s Super Bee chairlift in East Village, minimizing safety concerns by hosting the event outdoors and with more than 6 feet of physical distancing between groups.

The celebration was so well-received by community members that the school decided to host the event the same way again this year.



“Last year, when we did this for the first time, we had such a great response from the families that when I talked to the senior families this year, they said, ‘Let’s do this again,’ and Copper was very quick to agree to it,” Head of School Travis Aldrich said during his opening speech at the ceremony.

Caroline Santinelli, keynote speaker and former English teacher at The Peak School, noted that the class of 2021 endured all of its senior year during a pandemic and that the experience has taught them to “look beyond the cracks.”



Santinelli — who now works as an English faculty member at The Branson School in California — noted that “clear skies don’t necessarily wait for us on the other side.”

“We need people like you, Peak grads,” Santinelli said. “We need people who have learned to look beyond the cracks and see the possibilities and then help those who can’t try to see them too.”

Santinelli mentioned other tragedies that have occurred in the past year, including wildfires and mass shootings, and said in the midst of all of that, graduating seniors had learned how to cope and thrive.

“It’s easy to see the world for the cracks, but cynicism is just a poverty of the imagination,” Santinelli said. “You’ve been taught a great skill, the skill of seeing possibility. I hope you use it for good. Keep seeing the world for what is possible.”

Prior to the ceremony, each graduating senior had selected someone close to them to read a speech. Once Santinelli’s speech concluded, each speaker presented. Then each senior and their family boarded the Super Bee chairlift to ride to the top of the mountain where Aldrich handed them their diploma.

Graduating seniors Scout Murphy and Brynn Kennedy said it was an unorthodox year but definitely one to remember and that it was made special by Peak faculty and staff.

“I think our school did a really great job with trying to get things to be as normal as possible for us and keeping opportunities open and doing things like mountain days, where we were able to go outside and get some fresh air and get a break from school,” Kennedy said. “They were really good about following COVID protocols but still letting us enjoy it and have fun for our senior year.”

The Peak School Head of School Travis Aldrich hands Scout Murphy her diploma as she rides the Super Bee chairlift with friends and family members Thursday, May 27, at Copper Mountain Resort. This is the second year The Peak School hosted its graduation ceremony at Copper.
Photo by Jason Connolly /Jason Connolly Photography
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Murphy said it was surreal to think she was done with secondary school, especially considering how the school year began.

“It feels weird because the pandemic made it feel like this was the rest of my life,” Murphy said.

Looking ahead, both Murphy and Kennedy plan to attend college in the fall, like many of their peers. Murphy said she plans to attend Flagler College in Florida to study sociology while Kennedy said she plans to attend Kansas State University to study pre-veterinary medicine.

Other graduating seniors from The Peak School include Ren Bittner, Dreydn Ascher, Kyler Bryant, Joseph Hodge, Camden Lane, Tucker Neal, Brielle Quigley, Phin Smith and Lilyanne Tyson.

 


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