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Niwot High School graduation

Niwot High School's graduation ceremony last Saturday was equal parts bright and sentimental. The football field was awash with rows of white chairs and green capped and gowned members of the class of 2023.

Proud families, teachers and staff assembled under a photo-ready crisp blue sky to honor the students.

Nearly 300 students accepted their diplomas from Principal Eric Rauschkolb, after experiencing one of the most normal school-year experiences since classes were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, their freshman year.

Guests were seated in chairs behind the class, and on the hillside, amphitheater style. Many families had dispatched someone to line up as much as four hours before the field opened after set-up the day prior so that they could reserve a prime viewing seat.

The ceremony included "The Star Spangled Banner" performed by graduates Hosannah Adams, Josephine Gravelle and Dakota Allison, followed by welcoming remarks from Principal Eric Rauschkolb. Student addresses included words from Student Body President Ryan Gray, IB Valedictorian Olga Rokhlenko and Traditional Valedictorian Frederick Ambrose.

"Before starting here, I had heard a variety of comments about whether I should come to the school," said Gray. "What I discovered here is that the environment is incredibly competitive but the students are anything but pinned against each other. I found they had built a sense of community like no other."

Rokhlenko's remarks echoed similar sentiments. "I remember coming home the first day of freshman year and told my mother that Niwot was an absolute labyrinth. But slowly, my friends and I found our way around our new home. Through the last four years we've been faced with a wealth of obstacles. We started the first semester with a bomb threat and finished with a pandemic. Yet even though we were forced to be six feet apart, we could not be a closer group."

Ambrose also talked about the pandemic. "The pandemic has been a shared adversity that in many ways has defined our generation. Through this experience, we have all learned to appreciate every moment we spend together in person."

Rauschkolb remarked on the class of '23's unique experience. "What a wild ride you have had in the last four years. But this year was the most normal year we have had in quite some time and, boy, have you all made the most of getting back at it."

He also addressed the loss of senior class-member Peter Bonn-Elchoness from myocarditis and pointed out that his seat among the students was kept empty, and his family was present at the ceremony in honor of their son.

Other highlights of the year that Rauschkolb mentioned were:

• The school's celebration of its 50th anniversary

•Use of the football field for the first home varsity football game and track meet

• Niche.com ranked NHS number 1 for magnet schools and number 12 for college prep curriculum.

• Softball team and soccer team victories over Silver Creek, a girls cross country state championship, a girls track team state championship, and a boys second-place finish and third-place finish in cross country and track, respectively.

• Three NHS National Merit semifinalists, Henry Stauch, Marguerite Stokes and Angela Wu.

• 53 seniors earned their seal of biliteracy, one-third of the district's total.

• 18 student athletes had signed commitments to play their sport in college.

• 8 students performed in the SVVSD honor choir.

• 44 seniors received IB diplomas, with half of the entire senior class taking at least one IB class in their senior year.

• The graduating class cleared more than 26 million dollars in college scholarships.

As he finished his remarks, Rauschkolb spoke to what the class meant to him as a whole. "Every single person sitting before me made a difference at Niwot High School. I see you. I appreciate you. And I'm glad that every single one of you chose Niwot High School for your education."

 

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