Greeley West fresh graduates Payton Rath and Kyson Ells hadn’t even left the University of Northern Colorado’s Bank of Colorado Arena when they began reflecting on their high school experience.
“Greeley West is awesome,” Rath said. “Incredible teachers.”
Rath and Ells stood in the back of the UNC arena early Saturday afternoon waiting to meet their families after Greeley West’s 56th annual start. Rath and Ells were officially graduates of Greeley West, turn your acorns to the left side, for five or 10 minutes.
“That’s great,” Ells added, while acknowledging the day was “a bit” bittersweet. “I’m glad it’s over.”
But rather than figuring out how to get out of UNC and into the next phase of their lives, the young men thought about what they left West with: Skipping high school during COVID-19 and an untimely end to that. year due to the discovery of asbestos in the old Greeley West building.
“It sucked,” Rath said. “We lost two years in high school. We were lucky to have the teachers we had.
Ells added that going to school online could be a challenge. Sometimes it was hard to find the motivation. Ells agreed with Rath – without the educators at Greeley West, the graduating class of 317 would not have made it to graduation day.
The school’s graduation was originally scheduled to take place outdoors at UNC’s Nottingham Field. The venue has been changed due to the threat of inclement weather. The Northridge and Greeley Central ceremonies were also moved to the arena from District 6 Stadium. district.
The Greeley West ceremony was a celebration of a school that will soon have a new building. Although a section of the new Greeley West opened to staff and students a few weeks ago, the rest of the $136.6 million building will officially open in time for the 2022-23 school year.
Science teacher and tennis coach Ryan Pace, a graduate of Greeley West in 2006, was chosen by the students to deliver the keynote address. Pace recognized the Class of 2022 as the last class of the original Greeley West.
“There’s something special about being the last in this historic building,” Pace said. “So much was accomplished there, so many memories made, and you were the icing on the cake.”
Photos: Greeley West High School Class of 2022 Kickoff Ceremony at Bank of Colorado Arena
Pace discussed the resilience of the graduating class, who all metaphorically got knocked down in some way at school and “got back up.” He singled out three graduate students who embody the resilience of the Spartans, the school’s mascot: Khu Khu Hser, Aydali Nevarez Fuentes and Allyson Bartels. Bartels was one of two salutatorians in the class with a 4.5 GPA.
“These three Spartans overcame and bounced back again and again,” Pace said. “I can’t tell you how many more stories of triumph and resilience we have here. But it speaks to the character of what our Spartans hold.”
Bohden Suntych was introduced as the valedictorian of the class. Suntych had a 4.6 GPA and will be attending Arizona State to study Mechanical Engineering. The other salutatorian was Ali Lone with a 4.4 GPA. Lone provided the musical performance for the ceremony. He played Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” on cello.
Student speeches were delivered by Tanian Schuttler and Student Body Co-President Kimberly Shanks. Later in the ceremony, Shanks and co-chair Landry Young led their classmates to change their tassels from the right side to the left side of the mortarboard, signifying receipt of the diploma.
Suntych talked about the benefits of failing or failing because of the growth it provides. He encouraged his fellow graduates to keep “showing up” even if they’re scared.
“I failed more than I succeeded, and I failed myself at this point,” Suntych said. “All you have to do is take a step to show, and you’ll figure it out when you get there.”