22 graduate from Plateau Valley

Reina Galindo receives one of the scholarships Saturday during the Plateau Valley High School commencement ceremony in Collbran. This year’s graduates numbered 22.

COLLBRAN — The excited yelp Spencer Vivian shouted and the heroic pose Natasha Grimaldo struck proved one thing: Earning a high school diploma, no matter when or where, is a big deal.

Plateau Valley High School held its commencement ceremony Saturday in the school’s small auditorium on the edge of Collbran. Although Plateau Valley’s Class of 2011 was small — 22 graduates — there was no shortage of pictures and memories shared during the ceremony.

“Plateau Valley has changed me,” valedictorian Kaitlin Pettit told the audience and her classmates. “Thank you teachers, parents and friends. And thank you Class of 2011.”

Pettit, who plans to attend Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, moved to Plateau Valley five years ago as a shy girl used to the city. Now, the graduate joked, she has learned about ranch life and how everyone is related to someone in Collbran. However, she also learned to come out of her shell.

“I became who I am now,” Pettit told the crowd.

The lingering theme from Saturday’s commencement ceremony was that life in a small town had its advantages.

From the processional, where each graduate was escorted individually down the aisle alongside family, to the presentation of diplomas, where each graduate took his or her turn at center stage with the diploma and a smile — or a yelp and pose — the Class of 2011 got special treatment.

Keynote faculty speaker Randy Kittel had an individual message to each of the 22 graduates. Then, he told them they likely won’t remember what he said, but they will always remember Plateau Valley.

The slideshow seniors Kelly Haselhorst and Savannah Reynolds put together helped the crowd learn more about each graduate through baby pictures and specially selected songs and quotations.

Salutatorians Julia Gross and Lindsay Rasmussen thanked their classmates for everything that brought them to commencement, as the graduates head their separate ways by fall, including Gross, who is off to the University of Northern Colorado, and Rasmussen, who wants to major in architecture at the University of Oregon.

“It has been a privilege and honor to grow with you,” Gross said.


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