The graduating Class of 2019 for Mancos High School showed off their caring and ambitious character during a lively ceremony Friday evening. As the ceremony began, 23 seniors cheered each other on and beamed as they walked across the stage to receive diplomas.
“They are a tight-knit group,” said teacher Adyan Farrar, who has guided many of the graduates since middle school. “What stands out is how they have worked hard and supported each other. They welcomed and befriended new students.”
Superintendent Brian Hanson was also proud of the class.
“It’s an amazing group of kids,” he said. “Their futures are a mix of college, the military and the workforce. I know they will go out and accomplish great things.”
Overall, the 2019 class raised $450,000 in scholarships.
A 20-minute video set to music honored the graduates and was full of the youthful energy of students learning, playing sports, going on field trips and giving advice to future seniors.
Inspiring and creative speeches were delivered by Farrar, Valedictorian Emily Cole and Salutatorian Taeylor Samora. Cole is going to Grand Canyon University and was awarded a Daniels Fund scholarship. While in high school, she earned an associate degree in liberal arts from San Juan Community College. Samora will attend Arizona State University, and was awarded $80,000 in scholarships.
Cole wove a touching story about two friends who met in school when one helped the other after an embarrassing fall in the school yard – books, pencils and papers scattering everywhere. They became lifelong friends that afternoon but hung out in different peer groups.
When one gave a speech at graduation, he spoke about a low time when he planned to commit suicide and had cleaned out his locker, “so his mom did not have to.”
When he tripped and landed in the dirt, it affirmed his plans “until one person, with a small gesture, not only picked up his books, but picked up his life.” He aspired to become a doctor to help others.
“This is the ripple of kindness, this is how you change the world,” Cole said. “Have your cup so full of kindness that it begins leaking into the lives of those around you. Before you know it, you have started a chain reaction.”
In her speech, Samora said embracing education and your hometown roots are the keys to a fulfilling life.
“Growing up in a small town has truly shaped who I am, and I will be forever grateful to be a part of such a great community,” she said. “It is important to experience a new world, but never forget where home is. My classmates are my second family.”
The possibilities of education and youth are inspiring, Samora said.
“Do what you want, set goals and start achieving them and you will command the world,” she said. “I am truly in awe that sitting before me are the next prestigious leaders: soldiers, nurses, counselors, teachers, welders, business owners artists, millionaires and dreamers.”
Her advice: “Never stop seeking knowledge in all aspects of life, as it is powerful beyond measure. Be tenacious and stay persistent in striving for your ambitions. There is always room for improvement.”
Farrar spoke of the hero metaphor as a guide for the future.
The hero’s journey is a narrative common in films, she said, in which a hero goes on an adventure, has a decisive crisis, wins a victory and comes back home transformed and changed.
It translates to the heroic destiny of graduates “to work for the greater good and to explore new worlds,” she said. Another tip from the hero: Understand the importance of finding a mentor to help you navigate a new town, a new job or a tough class.
When times get tough, and thoughts of giving up arise, heroes reach for “the magic elixir” of knowledge and inspiration to get them through.
“They come back from the abyss a little bit stronger, a little more knowledgeable,” Farrar said. “They are transformed into something new. Graduates, we are the hero in our own lives.”
Knowledge will give you strength, she continued. Be brave in the face of adversity.
Author Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Graduates and parents, “Go out there, enter the cave, get the treasure, find your home, be a hero,” Farrar said.
And remember to visit the Mancos family to share what you have learned and seen, added Samora.
“Attack your deepest desires and never forget the road that will bring you home to our precious town,” she said.