THORNTON -- The first 187 graduates of Riverdale Ridge High School received their diplomas May 24, plus some words of advice and best wishes for their collective futures from an assortment of speakers.
The two-hour program took place on the school's football field.
Class valedictorian Michael Pineiro reminded his classmates they came to RRHS from different backgrounds and different schools.
"It was scary," he said. "I wasn't sure I wanted to leave my last school. It's a different transition from junior high school to high school. We all faced the unknown. But as the days and months and years passed, we had the opportunity to meet new friends and have experiences that proved fruitful."
The class' chosen faculty speaker, drama teacher Judd Farner, knows a thing or two about change. He went to college with the idea of becoming a teacher, decided he "couldn't cut it," then returned by "jumping in with both feet."
"Be a perpetual work in progress. Do the work to add to your community," he told the graduates. "Do the research. Ask the questions. Don't be afraid to stop and reflect. Find a partner and elevate your work. Ask for help, even when you're not comfortable with it."
Principal Terry Elliott said there were 187 reasons to be excited about the future.
"The first year, we had two clubs. Our sports teams were freshmen and sophomores competing against juniors and seniors," he told the graduates. "Today, we are a comprehensive high school with a number of programs. You helped create a vibrant nest full of opportunities for future students. You emerged from a pandemic with skills that will continue your growth. You developed many skills many of us never had in high school."
"Each of us has worked hard. That got us to where we are," Pineiro said. "We persevered through the last and hardest year of high school and through a pandemic. At the end of the day, it was what we learned along the way. Like truly is a journey."
Farner said it was an honor to be asked to speak at graduation, especially the Ravens' first graduation.
"It's an honor as a teacher to be recognized by your students, to feel that I belong to a community," he said. "
Elliott told the grads to "be the same person you've been."
"That will give your more energy to focus on your goal," he said. "Know that I have the greatest respect for every one of you. I could not be more honored to have you as the inaugural graduating class."
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