For the Golden High School Class of 2022, a little wintry weather on graduation day seemed almost par for the course.
After all, the 280 seniors graduating May 20 had to complete the last two years of their academic career entrenched in a global pandemic.
But despite the gloomy skies, freezing temperature, and rain mixed with snow, graduating seniors marched proudly onto the Colorado School of Mines Campbell Field at Marv Kay Stadium with their eyes fixed on the future.
Family and friends huddled together in the bleachers beneath a sea of brightly colored umbrellas for the ceremony that ran approximately 90 minutes.
“Between COVID and the chaos of the past four years, school hasn’t looked how we pictured,” GHS Senior Speaker David Yoon said. “But we’re here.”
Yoon moved to Jefferson County from South Korea in 2008.
“Joining our class of 2022 as a sophomore and foreigner, I was scared. Like I am right now,” he said. “I could not speak English very well and could not understand most of the conversations. However, right after I started going to Golden High School, I was welcomed. I was never judged on my outlooks or my Korean accent, but rather was praised and accepted.”
Ian Messa, one of Golden High School's two valedictorians, said the Class of 2022 has been forever bound together by its shared experiences and feelings.
Valedictorian Ellena Prehn did not speak.
“We’ve all missed assignments and had conversations with our favorite teachers," said Messa from beneath an umbrella. “We all know the feeling of eking by with any grade ... No matter what, we’ve all felt it. These reliefs and stresses have bound us together and as we shared them, we grew and shrank and hurt and healed, day by day, in a process that was so slow, it was barely even noticeable — then, without warning, virtual school afforded us a new level of independence and plunged us into a new depth of solitude.”
Messa said that after two years of growing together — unnoticed, students had a year of diverse individual growth “where we became ourselves and established unique and dynamic world views.”
Messa added that from this extreme range of experiences, Golden High School students have not only learned to care for others but for themselves, as well.
“To care is more than one thing,” he said. “It’s more than niceness, kindness or consideration. To care for someone is to recognize the universe within them and recognize the one within ourselves through honest expression. We will use the memories to propel us forward … and we will care about our own futures.”
Founded in 1873, Golden High School is Colorado's oldest continuously operating high school.
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