The intersection of encouragement and altruism is a Summit County signature (column) |

The intersection of encouragement and altruism is a Summit County signature (column)

It was something. Unless you’ve been before, the magnitude of our community’s generosity at the annual high school scholarship night is near impossible to capture in words. The statistics, numbers and types of awards are staggering. More than 71 groups found a way to support the class of 2015. The bandwagon was full, with everyone from the Summit County Garden Club to the Climax Molybdenum Company. The resorts were out in force, along with the Summit Foundation that occupied the stage for nearly 20 minutes calling out the names of numerous recipients. The night embodied the intersection of encouragement and altruism that is a Summit County signature.

As dependable as mud season, each spring a new batch of Summit High seniors steal our community’s heart and focus, taking center stage, poised and seemingly ready for the world. The overwhelmingly fierce belief in Summit’s own is somewhat a wonder, as is the spirit that gives rise to this event.

The high school principal’s opening remarks rang true, what happens on this night is “unheard of” in a community our size. I took a quick spin around the Web looking for something similar, and while I’m sure other communities around the country offer up student support, my bias is that none do it much better than Summit.

A portion of the evening highlighted the 2015 students who took home extraordinarily prestigious awards, from National Merit Scholars, including the top scholar in the country, to this year’s recipient of the impressive Daniels Scholarship. The bulk of the evening, however, was devoted to recognizing individual students for their individuality, be it a passion for singing or a talent for hockey.

Remember too that in this little pond you always will be our big fish. Swim far into life’s ocean, and take with you the generous heart of your home.

As I watched the ceremony progress I pondered just what the students will take away from the evening. I’m sure they appreciate the money, but is there something more?

Taking a look at the Frisco Elementary School fifth-grade students who eloquently delivered individualized remarks about each senior award recipient it occurred to me how much of it starts right there. In the youngsters who give to their older peers, learning along the way how much these high school kids have already contributed to our community. It doesn’t stop when the kids leave the stage. The night was punctuated with Summit grads who returned to their alma mater to hand out awards. Summit’s esteemed sheriff stole the show for a few moments bestowing a citizenship award accompanied by a dozen donuts from none other than law enforcement’s favorite sponsor “Daylight Donuts.” He flashed the Summit Cove Coyote sign and many of the students onstage responded in kind. No arrests followed.

In sharp contrast to last week’s celebration, last night I stared at my television screen, watching in mute heart-break while war was waged on the city of Baltimore. People setting their own community on fire, caught up in a mass mentality of mayhem that seems, from afar at least, quite unfathomable.

While watching the scene unfold in shock my mind slipped back to just a week ago when I witnessed the future smiling back at me, kids crossing the stage eager to move on to life’s next chapter. Is there something more than just the money that will linger after the dollars are deposited in their selected institution of higher learning? From this vantage point, it’s the gift of community I hope they take with them as they go. Class of 2015, Summit believes in you, and your motto, “may the dreams you dream be the future you find.” Remember too that in this little pond you always will be our big fish. Swim far into life’s ocean, and take with you the generous heart of your home.

Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters, both soon to be fish in the Summit High School pond. She welcomes your comments at

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