'You are the author of your own destiny': Spirits soar at Boulder High School graduation

·3 min read

May 23—The crowd was rowdy for 9 a.m. on a Sunday.

Throughout the ceremony, jubilant onlookers blared airhorns. Others released balloons, while some held up signs — one of which read, "Congratulations — Can I go back to bed now?"

The early Sunday start time for the graduation came after the original ceremony was delayed an extra day because of a snowstorm that left the city covered in several inches of powder. Brunches were rescheduled, graduation parties were postponed. However, this latest surprise was just another day in the life of a Boulder High senior.

"If there's one thing the Class of 2022 knows how to do, it's making the most of life's curveballs," said Rowan Ellis-Rissler, one of the three student speakers.

"It's being in the depths of adolescence, and then literally being mandated to stay at home. It's beginning a junior year completely online, and then having a hybrid structure, and then having to wear masks, to not, and then to finally be able to sit here and laugh and cry with the people I love most in this world. It's beginning a new phase of life, knowing that nothing goes as planned. Because that, my friends, is life," she added.

Every speech given by the student speakers at the ceremony gave testimony to the strength and authenticity of the senior class.

Madelyn Acosta Arredondo told the story of how she learned to navigate high school, from when she was a budding freshman who had to adjust to waking up early to make it on time to class, to becoming a self-sufficient learner through the pandemic.

"Sometimes we had to dig deep to find motivation to attend class. It was also difficult to communicate with our friends and our peers. But we persevered to learn and to take responsibility for our own education," she said.

In her speech, Ella Hoffman illustrated how inner strength can come from honoring one's originality.

"Life is not about being wealthy, about being popular, or being perfect — it's about being real, being humble, and being kind," she said.

Hoffman encouraged her classmates to appreciate themselves and to appreciate the challenges of life that are to come.

Students, parents and staff also honored Boulder High's James A. Hill, for his work as principal and dedication to the school during the past seven years.

Like the Class of 2022, Hill will also be moving on from Boulder High. Hill accepted a job as assistant superintendent of human resources, to begin in the fall.

In his address to the senior class, Hill said the graduation ceremony was causing his nerves and his emotions to be at an all time high because "today we leave the comforts of Boulder High School for the final time together."

Hill said that in order to combat being afraid of failure, one must have imagination.

"I want you to dream big, and fearlessly place into your imagination things that are so spectacular, that you are willing to do anything and everything it takes to achieve it or receive it," Hill said.

"Dream that you are proud of who you are — even in your current state — while you work on becoming the best version of you," he added.

Hill concluded by singing to the class a verse of "Pure Imagination" from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory."

"Come with me, and you'll be / In a world of pure imagination," he sang to his former students, who, after tossing their 549 purple hats, officially entered the real world.