Senior Eagles flip their tassels

gilpin grad whole classBarbara Lawlor, Gilpin County.  It is such a quick and simple gesture. Graduating seniors, once they have received their diplomas, are asked to move the tassels on their graduation caps from one side to the other. When the tassel flip is done, the caps are tossed into the air and an explosion of proud applause continues long after the caps reach the ground.

That gesture is the accumulation of 12 years of education, of going through every phase of growing up, sometimes in the same school, with other students who will become forever friends. After all, seniors are the survivors of teenhood, and they all came out on the other side together.


On Saturday, May 14, 18 students graduated from Gilpin High School. The ceremony was held at the GHS auditorium and led by the GHS administration and teachers.

The class motto is by Andre Gide, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” The class song is “Days Go By” by Keith Urban. The class flower is the Daisy, and the Class colors are emerald and silver. All of the graduates wore black caps and gowns.

GHS principal, Alexis Donaldson, welcomed the families and friends of the graduates who packed the auditorium. Moms had their purses, with the Kleenex within reach. Dads sat tall, blinking now and then.

Dr. David MacKenzie, the district superintendent, asked alumni to stand up, some of them parents of the Class of 2016. The Commencement Address was given by Ron Engles, the Mayor of Central City, who began by saying he didn’t know who had spoken at his graduation and he didn’t remember anything that was said, but he knows his mother remembered what was said.

“So I knew I had to come up with something that would be memorable to the mothers here today.”

He told the graduates that the most important thing to remember is that it is okay to be your authentic self.

“My life would have been easier if I had known that, if I realized that the smaller things count so much. My family was never affectionate, never hugged or said ‘I love you.’ When I was 18, leaving home, saying goodbye to my dad, he reached out to shake my hand, and instead, I hugged him and told him I loved him. I am sure that act gave him room to start the journey to becoming his authentic self.”

The next item on Engels’ list was to continue your dream. He said that everyone’s dream is the right path to follow, that too many years are spent trying to do what someone else wants you to do.

Engles urged the graduates to pay attention to what opportunities might lead one to a place he or she never thought they’d go, to the depths and iciness of life.

“Running for office was never part of my dream, but here I am. Take the last 13 years into your future, follow you dreams and know that it is not guaranteed to be easy, but it will bring you joy.”

Jon Lovett III, the class salutatorian, took the podium and opened his speech by thanking the teachers, “who made my life bearable and unbearable.”

He said they helped him in his classes and helped him to become involved in the school as well as find his creative side, finding his “inner me.”

“I think of my high school days like a lollipop. It was sweet on the outside, hard on the inside and it sucks from beginning to end. Let’s celebrate the days gone by and the memories we have made.”

gilpin grad larson

He received cheers from his peers and chuckles of understanding from the audience.
Lovett asked his fellow graduates to continue to do right within their community and make things right in their own lives. He assured them that there is life beyond Gilpin County and said, “Aren’t you glad this is the first day of the rest of your life? I know I am.”

Valedictorian Chase Boulter, the recipient of scholarships worth $206,000, spoke of choices and how we should use them to judge ourselves, especially the self-correcting choices we use to define ourselves.

He brought up the choice of watching television or doing homework as an example. He advised students to follow the rules and pay attention to the choices that can open doors.
Boulter told his teachers that each of them made an impression on him and described what he gleaned from their classes. He then addressed his fellow seniors and described the qualities of each of them. He told the audience that, “We may be lazy but we are not dramatic.”

gilpin grad good fou grads

Kirsten Goodlett said the Class of 2016 was anything but lazy and named all of the awards that were granted to the seniors.

2016 Graduates of Gilpin High School, Scholarships, and Future Plans:

Rebecca Allen –  Scholarship:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Alan Green $2,000
Central City Elks $250
Ihme Service Excellence $500
Gilpin Ed. Foundation $1,000
Total:    $9,750
Attending:  Colorado Northwestern
Major: Equine Studies

Khristine Barr –  Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
CO Elks $500
Gilpin Ed. Foundation $1,000
Total:    $7,500
Attending:  Red Rocks CC
Major: Undecided

Chase Boulter – Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Central City Promise $20,000
Daniel’s Fund $160,000
Mines Merit $20,000
Total: $206,000
Attending:   Colorado School of Mines
Major: Engineering

Sierra De Leon –Scholarship
City of Black Hawk $6,000
CC Elks $500
Total:    $6,500
Attending:  University of Northern
Major: Kinesiology

Sam Ghaffari –  Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Total $6,000
Attending: University of Colorado at
Major: Undecided

Jonathan Gonzales – Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Total:    $6,000
Attending: Red Rocks, Plans to work
Major: Criminal Justice

Maegan Hensley
Attending:  Western Piedmont
Community College
Major: Biology

Adam Holsten –  Scholarship:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Total    $6,000
Attending:   Metropolitan State
University of Denver
Major: Aviation

Alexis Kennedy – Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6000
Total:    $6000
Attending:   Realtor School

Marie Larson –  Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $600
Colo. Elks $500
Gilpin Ed. Foundation $1500
Gilpin Booster-Academic $500
Total: $7500
Attending: Colorado State University
Major: Undecided

Jon Lovett III – Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Ronald MacDonald   $1,500
CSU Merit Scholarships & Awards
Elks Calabrese $500
Ben Slinger Memorial $1,000
Black Hawk Masons $1,500
Gilpin Ed. Foundation $1,000
Gilpin Booster-Academic $500
Total:     $2,960
Attending:    Colorado State University
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Daniel Madrigal-Garcia – Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Central City Promise $15,000
Alan Green $2,000
Central City Elks $500
Lady Elks Aux.  $500
Gilpin Ed. Foundation $1,000
Gilpin Booster-Athletic $500
Total:    $25,500
Attending: Colorado State University
Major: Engineering

Jessie Morgan –  Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Total: $6,000
Attending: Denver School of Nursing

Sara Osteboe-Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Central City Elks $500
Rotary Fine Arts Award $100
Gilpin Ed. Foundation $1,500
Gilpin Booster-Art $500
Total:    $8,600
Attending: Colorado State University

Jonathan Sales-Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Missouri Valley Academic $1,000
Missouri Valley Athletics $9,500
Total:     $16,500
Attending: Missouri Valley College,
Running track and cross country
Major: Software Development

Milena Sanchez-Molina-Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Alan Green $2,000
Total:    $8,000
Attending: Regis University
Major: Nursing

Bjorn Tomlinson-Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Plans to work: Excavation, Welding

Darby Welch-Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Plans to: spend time traveling

Tyler Williams-Plans to:  spend time traveling

Isaiah Wood-Scholarships:
City of Black Hawk $6,000
Total: $6,000
Attending: Art Institute of Colorado
Major: Graphic Design and Music
Total Scholarships Awarded estimated $373,400 over the next four years.

With Rascal Flatts singing “My Wish,” each senior reached into a bucket of flowers and presented one to the person or persons that made a difference in their lives. It was time for the tears as moms and dads, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, and best friends received their flowers, tokens of gratitude for being there when this year’s graduating student needed them.

The senior slide show created by Sara Osteboe showed images of then and now, from toddlers to teens. The diplomas were presented by Alexis Donaldson and Dr. David MacKenzie, and the Class of 2016 was presented to the world.

A reception was held in the atrium where hugs, high fives, and party plans took place.
Another flock of Eagles leave the nest, testing their wings, flying to the sky.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.