MONTE VISTA - As the sun set over the San Juan Mountain Range, the Creede 2020 graduates greeted family and friends as they drove into the Star Drive In Movie Manor in Monte Vista to celebrate their accomplishments and graduate from high school in an entirely new way.
Emotions were high even though people gathered inside their vehicles to congratulate this year’s graduates. The fact that things like basic human touch and interaction were not possible during this time of celebration weighed on many, but thanks to the efforts of both the school district and the Drive In, these amazing students were honored on the big screen.
The parking lot in front of the second movie screen was packed to the brim with family and friends showing their unwavering support and pride for the nine graduates. The night started as soon as the first stars began to flicker to life in the evening sky and a pictorial retrospective slideshow on the screen walked each student through their memories; pictures from their youth until the present appeared across the screen while “It’s a Great Day to be Alive” by Travis Tritt played on the radio.
Mr. Collin Vanchattle gave the opening remarks thanking everyone for the effort that was put in to create a unique and heartfelt graduation celebration. After explaining the need for social distancing and minimum human contact, Vanchattle addressed the seniors, “Please just take a moment and think about what you have accomplished. This is a rite of passage and graduation is a big moment in your life. You have come this far, and you have completed it. Think about all the great times you have had and all of the hard times you have had; you made it. As the cliché says, you are going out into a brand-new world and this time it is true. You are going to go out into a world that no one has ever experienced before.”
Next, Salutatorian Sadi Allen spoke to her fellow seniors, “Thank you for being here tonight and thank you to everyone who made this graduation possible during this uncertain time.” Allen spoke about her time at the Creede School going from the old school building in town to the new one five years ago and about how being in a small school like Creede, could offer huge opportunities that would otherwise not be available. Allen highlighted her time on the volleyball and track teams, and the chance to be a team manager which helped drive her decision to pursue sports management as she furthers her education.
“Thank you for instilling in me with these responsibilities and giving me the opportunity to become a manager for both basketball and track. The Class of 2020 was born into this world either right before or during the aftermath of 9/11 and today we are graduating in the biggest pandemic since the Spanish Flu which was over a century ago, but we have better days ahead of us, or least I hope so. One thing we also have in common is that we all graduated from Creede.”
Valedictorian Grace Whitehorn was the next to speak. He started by thanking the administration for working day and night to host a graduation. Whitehorn also took time to thank the teachers for the last few months, “Thank you for your time and dedication these last few months. They have not been easy.”
“Congratulations to the Class of 2020. We did it even though the world seemed to be falling down around us, we persevered and came out strong. None of us expected a global pandemic to ruin the rest of our senior year but here we are.”
Whitehorn ended her speech with a quote, “Embrace the suck. I did some research to find out where this quote originated from, I found that it comes from the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom. The American soldiers would say this to each other when times were tough, and their limits were being tested. Embrace the suck means to accept the situation for what it is and to make the best of it.
With everything we have had to do this year, I believe this quote is fitting for our current situation. Our senior year was not a war zone, but I encourage everyone to embrace the challenge that this year has presented and to make the best of it. Congratulations Class of 2020.”
The night was ended with an address by Ms. Kim Fairchild, whose soul message for her students was to always tell people how much you love them and to remember that anyone, at any time, could be gone before they know it.
Diplomas were not presented due to the COVID-19 restrictions but will be issued to graduates at a later time. Several attendees stayed after the ceremony was complete to enjoy a showing of Spies in Disguise before heading home.
Congratulations to all of Creede’s 2020 graduates!