43 Ignacio seniors graduate
Capturing the moment is new part of commencement
2014 was the year of the "selfie" at the Ignacio High School graduation last Saturday morning at SunUte Community Center. Forty-three students received diplomas.
Graduating seniors in Ignacio traditionally step up onto a podium as they proceed into the room, a prime opportunity for family photos. This year several graduates whipped out their smart phones and snapped their own photos as well.
Once all were seated, Gregory Bison and Ellie Seibel sang the National Anthem. Fabian Martinez gave the invocation.
"Remember, commencement means the beginning, not the end," Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto told the graduates. He admonished them, "May you always be a member of the Ignacio community."
He asked them to stand, turn toward the audience, and recognize parents or anyone who helped them over the last 13 years.
Featured speaker Dr. Pat Dobbs said, "Nine years ago I rode into this town and felt completely at home." She said over the past several years she kept hearing how special this class was.
"The community has pinned its hopes on you," she said. "More than 70 percent of you are continuing education beyond high school. The national average is only 40 to 45 percent. You are 30 percent above the national average."
She continued, "Many of you will serve this community, the tribe. I feel great pride and excitement for the things that are happening in the community." She cited the turnaround of Ignacio schools and the new construction and credited Fuschetto for being "the man for this time in Ignacio."
Dobbs concluded, "You guys are amazing. You take my breath away. I love you and I believe in you. I'll never forget the Class of 2014."
IHS Principal Melanie Taylor added of the class, "I didn't realize how driven they were. They are an extremely strong class." She read through a long list of scholarships students have received and said there are more that weren't on the list.
Valedictorian Kelton Richmond and Salutatorian Jayce Stricherz gave their address together in alternating lines.
Samuel Corrado, Justin Ballew, and Rhemedio Lovato gave the dedication to parents, and then the graduates spread out through the gym bearing flowers for parents and other loved ones. There was hugging and more picture taking. It appeared that some of those pictures were going directly onto Facebook.
After the traditional slide show, graduates were called one by one to cross the stage and get their diplomas.
The graduation was held in the SunUte Community Center gym because the high school is at the start of almost total reconstruction. Fuschetto thanked district maintenance staff for getting the gym set up for the event. He said next year's graduation will be back in the IHS gym.
Graduates, families and friends gathered outside for more photos after the ceremony, then headed off to parties, the Southern Ute Bear Dance or the Bear Dance Pow Wow.