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Colorado Graduating Class of 2020
Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes and the entire CDE staff congratulate the graduating Class of 2020.
This graduating class will always be remembered as the class that earned a high school diploma despite a pandemic. Others in your place may attribute the current circumstances as the reason for unmet goals, but not you. You have persevered and shown resilience, adaptability, and, yes, also the ability to succeed.
As you embark on your next adventure, even though what you planned after high school may look different now - whether going to college, attending a technical school, pursuing a career or joining the military - you should not give up on your goals and dreams. Colorado and our nation need you now more than ever; you are the future leaders that will help our communities, state, country and world overcome this pandemic. Stay focused and hopeful! Congratulations, Class of 2020!
Celebrating Graduating Seniors
Check out what some school districts around the state are doing to celebrate graduating seniors.
- Eagle County School District worked with the Vail Daily to help recognize seniors in the newspaper and also recognized seniors on social media channels.
- Denver School of Science & Technology asked students to submit their "announcement selfies" with pennants or signs with their future plans; then, if they wanted, students tagged DSST, and the school posted their information on social media.
- Park County Schools hired a videographer to professionally record speeches and compile a graduation video. For the Saturday, May 30, graduation, the district has planned a car parade through town led by local law enforcement.
- Weld County RE-4: The Windsor students will be honored with a virtual, pre-recorded ceremony beginning at noon Sunday, May 24. Windsor High School hosted a day-long cap-and-gown distribution and graduation car parade on Thursday, May 7. Seniors reported to the high school in one-hour increments based on their last name.
- Broomfield High School in the Boulder Valley School District made yard signs with the names of each senior and placed them outside the school as a tribute and hosted a car parade on the graduation day, on Saturday, May 16.
- Many schools across the state made yard signs and posted those in students' front yards, including Legacy High School in Adams 12.
Graduate in the heartland got to work when COVID hit
Sophie Russell is the type of person who when presented with a challenge just knuckles down and starts working harder.
For example, everything was humming along smoothly in the first part of 2020 in her last year at Swink High School, based in a tiny rural ranching town in southeastern Colorado.
Sophie was in 4H and Future Business Leaders of America and taking college-credit classes at Otero Junior College. She had won the prestigious Boettcher Foundation Scholarship that would provide her with a full-ride to Colorado State University in the fall. Then the pandemic hit.
Her schooling went online, her friends retreated to their homes and the world shut down. For two weeks, Sophie sheltered in place with the rest of us. But then she said, “this is boring.”
Sophie went out and got a job – a part-time position at the local Safeway in La Junta. She began taking on more of the chores at her family’s ranch and dove deeper into her schoolwork.
“Being able to get up and go to work every day instead of showing fear is how I have shown resilience during the pandemic,” Sophie said recently. “Working at a grocery store hasn’t been easy. Customers are getting annoyed. I was working on the sanitation team at first. It wasn’t fun, but it was a job and it got me out of the house.”
Sophie’s graduation is set for late May but will be unlike anything that has come before for Swink High School. Each one of the class of 20 graduates can bring two people to the school on a predetermined day to be filmed accepting their diploma, speaking and celebrating for a video that will be edited and broadcast on May 24.
“It’s great because we will always have that video,” Sophie said. “I understand that we should still stay away from each other to stop the spread. But it has been hard. I am a social person. But I realize that this is for the well-being of everybody. And if we follow it, we can be back together soon.”
Sophie plans to go to CSU, get a business administration degree with an emphasis on accounting and eventually go to law school on her way to becoming a U.S. Senator.
“Coming from a small town, we have always had a small voice,” she said. “I have always wanted to have a bigger voice. That has inspired me to do something bigger, like becoming a U.S. senator someday.”
Sophie clearly won’t let something like a global pandemic stand in her way.