Welcome to the 24th Commencement of Chaffee County High School. This afternoon is the end of a long and winding road for all of us and the beginning of a fantastic journey for the graduates here on the stage.
Before we begin, I want to extend sincere appreciation to all of the family, friends, school, and community members that are here. Thank you for coming to support these students today, as I am sure you have done so often in the past. We also appreciate some specific people for taking the time to come up here to Silver Cliff Ranch this afternoon, including Superintendent Sue Holmes and our School Board members that are here: Tracy Storms, Ken McMurry, Erin Flavin, and Nancy Best.
Finally… you, the class of 2016, thank you for giving this your all and completing the hard work it took to get here. We are here to honor you today.
I would like to offer some perspective on the significance of the experience that you and these seniors are about to share. At CCHS, our history runs deep, our methods and philosophies run counter to the traditional experience, and we are blessed to watch the process of empowered education as it unfolds for the students at the school.
We are celebrating 26 years of offering options in education for the Upper Arkansas Valley. For the first two years, the Buena Vista and Salida school districts collaborated to offer an alternative in education through CCHS, but students returned to their home schools to walk in that graduation. In 1992, Chaffee County High School began to offer its own ceremony and has been doing so for the last 24 years.
We are proud to be a key part in our district’s mission to “ensure every student reaches the peak of success” and to be a part of the world’s most important work: evolving education to help raise children into citizens.
What we do at CCHS is special; we innovate and adapt to serve anyone. We dedicate ourselves to working with students to develop individualized experiences. We create plans and procedures based on student needs and desires. We do this to offer the most powerful educational experience we can.
We come to school every day and find ways to keep our students confident, comfortable, and relevant in this exponential era. This mission has forced us to develop classes, techniques, and language that no teacher training course would ever dream of teaching, that you cannot find research on, and that changes on a daily basis. It is exciting and exhausting for all involved.
So, why do we fight so hard for this new school of education? Well, at CCHS, we do this for you – for our community, we do it for our country, and for a peaceful world, I do it for the future that my children will inherit, and most of all, we do it for these students.
We are fighting for a community in which we are all powerful people, we are all logical, competent and compassionate and therefore we can all give and receive respect. We can trust each other to make sound decisions and we can express thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment because our reasoning is right. This level of ultimate compassion between the members of a community is harder to nurture than any of us expect. It takes time to develop the trust needed for this world to grow and thrive.
We trust the graduates behind me. By being here today, they have proven that they are trustworthy. We ask to you trust them as well, trust them to engage in our society, trust them to offer their insight and to be a part of our conversations.
Many people will not understand why we dedicate ourselves to the important job of raising kids into a community. Some people will never realize the societal impact that this misunderstanding has. That is why we MUST continue with this task. That is the reason to persevere and continue to learn and evolve. That is why I am here right now: to remind you, graduating class of 2016, that if your learning stops today, than we have failed.
Remember the value that we place on education and learning. Keep this in the forefront and you are ready to enter into our adult world; continue to value education without us and you are done being a student.
We need to strengthen our community one member at a time and we will begin today with these 12 former students. With a round of applause, please welcome these new community members through this rite of passage. Congratulations graduates!