Fruita graduates put best feet forward
Nobody had to tell Fruita Monument High School seniors Rachel Smith and Cassandra Geske to break a leg Tuesday on graduation day. They’d already done that.
“Put your best foot forward even if it is broken,” Geske said with a laugh.
With sunny smiles and each sporting leg casts decked in school colors, the two ambled across the stage on crutches to receive their diplomas along with 416 other classmates, the largest graduating class in District 51 this year.
Although the pair — Geske broke her right leg and Smith her left — missed the traditional one-lap walk around the track at Stocker Stadium and didn’t make their way through life-sized school letters, they weren’t about to miss out on the celebration.
In just less than two hours, graduates and their loved ones were treated to a series of speeches and live music from the school’s band and combined choirs.
“We may remember something about algebra,” valedictorian Kate Dusenbury said, taking the stage. “It’s the people that make high school worth attending. … Remember that the most important time is now, that the most important person is the one you’re with. Live in the moment.”
Dusenbury was honored for receiving a prestigious Boettcher Award and being a National Merit Scholar finalist, but a whopping 101 other students also received awards and scholarships.
One of those students is Huntyr Maclaskey, a football player who earned a 4.0 GPA, said his proud aunt, LB Wacker, who made a special trip to Grand Junction with her 8-month-old baby, Chole, and other family members.
Maclaskey will play football for Mesa State College in the fall and pursue a degree, with scholarships paying for it all.
Wild applause followed an address by teacher of the year, Jim VanPelt. VanPelt, who teaches English, marveled at how the class of 2009 heads into the world as quite the technologically savvy bunch, especially compared to the days when he graduated high school in 1972. VanPelt said he remembered a lot of “blah, blah, blah” by speakers on the stage.
“Seniors, whatever you do with your lives, do not let them be blah ... blah, blah, blah, blah,” he said.
Graduates were handed blue and white-striped beach balls at the onset of the ceremony. Students blew them up after taking their seats and launched them into the air as a persistent wind blew them about. After turning their tassels, caps flew high and a combination of glitter and balloons sailed east over the crowd.