Graduation celebrations

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    The members of Pagosa Springs High School’s (PSHS) class of 2021 will receive their diplomas this Saturday. 

    Thankfully the ceremonies won’t be like last year, when graduates gathered with family in their own vehicles in order to be socially distanced in the school’s parking lot while they watched a video compilation that was previously taped as each student, one at a time, received their diploma in the school’s auditorium. 

    Instead, those students will gather at Golden Peaks Stadium for celebrations of completion of a year like no other. 

    When the school year began, no one was certain what graduation would look like. 

    With COVID restrictions easing, large gatherings are now possible, which is yet another reason to celebrate.

    The morning ceremony will celebrate the accomplishments of 84 students receiving diplomas from PSHS. 

    Saturday afternoon’s celebration will be held in honor of the first class graduating from San Juan Mountain School, which is Archuleta School District’s new alternative high school. Sixteen students will be receiving their diplomas in the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium.

    As the graduates close out the final chapter of their high school years, they will be turning the page on a new chapter of their lives. There are plenty of blank pages in their books of life just waiting to be filled. 

    We share with you some bits of inspirational graduation speeches to guide you in developing the story of your life. 

    A commencement address by Steven Spielberg at Harvard University from a few years ago offered these valued takeaways:

    • “Life is one strong, long string of character-defining moments.”

    • “Your intuition is different from your conscience. They work in tandem, but here’s the distinction: Your conscience shouts, ‘here’s what you should do,’ while your intuition whispers, ‘here’s what you could do.’ Listen to that voice that tells you what you could do. Nothing will define your character more than that.”

    • “Don’t turn away from what’s painful. Examine it. Challenge it.”

    • “In your defining moments, do not let your morals be swayed by convenience or expediency. Sticking to your character requires a lot of courage. And to be courageous, you’re going to need a lot of support.”

    This next bit of advice shared by Spielberg resonates even more given what we have all experienced over the past year during the pandemic:

    • “And please stay connected. Please never lose eye contact. … We are spending more time looking down at our devices than we are looking in each other’s eyes. … Everyone here, please find someone’s eyes to look into. … turn to someone you don’t know or don’t know very well. … Just let your eyes meet. That’s it. That emotion you’re feeling is our shared humanity mixed in with a little social discomfort. But, if you remember nothing else from today, I hope you remember this moment of human connection.”

    And Dr. Seuss once said, “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places. You’re off and away.”

    Graduation and commencement speeches are full of valuable advice for our youth, and for some of us who aren’t so young anymore, we find these inspirational speeches just what we need for a new perspective.

    We are proud of the resilience of the class of 2021. 

    What kind of story will you write for the rest of your life? 

    Terri Lynn Oldham House

    terri@pagosasun.com