Summit High School graduates prepare for next adventure |

Summit High School graduates prepare for next adventure

Families looked on with a mixture of pride and nostalgia, as Summit High School’s class of 2016 streamed into the gymnasium. The 164 graduates took a moment to reflect on the struggles and achievements of the last year, with several students taking their talents on to the next level, whether through rugby or track programs, performing arts or rigorous degrees.

“We’ve shattered long-standing records that have draped these walls around you for decades,” principal Drew Adkins addressed the crowd. “Summit High School will not be the same without your presence. However, we will be forever shaped by your accomplishments.”

Booming applause filled the auditorium, as graduates stood in recognition of their future service with the armed forces, such as student body president Dusty Giron.

“Next year he’ll be a breathing semper fi walking to the sound of the Marine hymn,” Adkins said.

Loud cheers erupted as another group of students stood: those who will be the first in their families to attend college. As the graduates prepared to take on their next adventure, Adkins encouraged them to “climb on” and find ways to support the communities they join in the future.

“I hope that you’ve begun to consider that route on that rock face on your path through life,” he said. “Though most of us will never take on Everest, success starts with the end in mind. We have the strength and resilience to reach the summit of each of our analogous peaks.”

Salutatorian Ruthie Boyd, a state Nordic skiing champion and 3200m track star, and valedictorian Cait McCluskie, who was honored in 2015 with The Summit Foundation’s outstanding youth award, and helped found the Foundation’s Youth Giving Council were also recognized during the ceremony. With plans to pursue theater and math degrees at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, McCluskie hopes to make it big on Broadway, having performed in the past with Summit High School, the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre and the Lake Dillon Theatre Company.

“Under the Pythagorean theorem and Shakespeare analyses was one simple lesson: how to be strong,” McCluskie said. “The question becomes, how do you use that strength after you leave Summit High School?”

Recognizing the achievements of her fellow students, those who overcame injuries to make records, or pushed through personal obstacles, she added, “Life is hard. It will give you challenges from every direction. ….Every single one of you is capable of achieving your dreams.”

This year, Summit High School students received a total of $370,000 in scholarships through local organizations, including The Summit Foundation. Many will set forth to out-of-state colleges around the U.S., as well as Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, Colorado Mountain College and Adams State University. Others will begin careers with the armed services, or jump immediately into the workforce.

Keynote speaker Rebecca Espina, a Summit High School alumna who is currently working on the James Webb Space Telescope as a contractor with NASA, highlighted the possibility of success in the face of adversity.

“I learned I didn’t know as much as I had expected,” she said of her college years. “I was stressed and I was frustrated.”

After obtaining her degree in aerospace engineering, Espina pursued her dream career as a senior structural dynamics engineer.

“I have an exciting job, working with intelligent people and helping build the largest space telescope that will be launched to date,” she said. “Be present. Embrace life for all its joys, challenges, fears and triumphs.”

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