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Graduates leave mark on Yampa Valley High School

School recognizes Class of 2022 in afternoon ceremony

Alexis Matthews speaks to her classmates during Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony on Friday May 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Nine students were recognized at Yampa Valley High School’s graduation on Friday, May 27, in a ceremony that showcased just how important the school has been to the students and how much they have to offer moving forward.

“It changed my life in every way,” said graduating senior Alexis Matthews, who was selected to speak at the ceremony.

“I didn’t see myself graduating. I didn’t see myself, possibly, being alive in the next couple of years,” she continued. “There are a lot of things that I’ve endured in my life with my brother’s passing and a lot of other things. This school has taken me under its wing — not only the staff, but the students. We’ve all become one.”



Matthews was joined at the ceremony by fellow graduating seniors Charlotte Brooks, Claire Connell, Makyla Kusy, Zachary Partlow, Luis Simon and Veronika Simonsen. Julian Davis also graduated as part of the class, but was not at the ceremony.

Matthews and Simon are the only two students in this year’s graduating class who spent all four years at Yampa Valley High School. She said those who joined her in the classroom are as much family as they are her classmates.



“We have become family over the years,” Matthews said. “I can say that this class, even some of the students that I don’t know that well, are really resilient. I think this school is probably one of the best things that you can do with your life.”

Yampa Valley School Principal Karla Setter said this class has certainly made an impact, and she will be looking forward to what they accomplish in the future.

“They really are free spirits,” said Setter, who has been principal at the school the past three years. “They just want to charge ahead and create their own pathways. They’re very creative. They are artists, they are entrepreneurs and they are musicians. They made their way through high school and followed their own individual paths, and I think that’s what they’re going to do moving forward.”

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks spoke at the ceremony along with honorary presenter Chris Ray, who is a leader in promoting healthy living and wellness through his role at the Health Partnership of Northwest Colorado, and former Yampa Valley High School teacher Rachel Clifton, who started with this class before leaving for Texas and addressed the class with a recording.

The ceremony also included announcements that Matthews, Partlow and Brooks had all earned scholarships to continue their education at the next level.

“I feel that I have made an impact on the school and the students,” Matthews said. “I’m very grateful to have been a part of the school and this class.”

Claire Connell laughs as one of her teachers reads a short introduction about her at Yampa Valley High School’s graduation ceremony Friday, May, 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
From left, Veronika Simonsen, Luis Simon and Alexis Matthews listen as seniors from the Class of 2022 are introduced at Yampa Valley High School’s graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Zachary Partlow listens during Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Luis Simon smiles as he listens to the speakers at Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, 2022. Simon was one of nine members of the Class of 2022 at YVHS.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Makyla Kusy hugs teacher Garret Swartzendruber after getting her high school diploma during Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Charlotte Brooks shows off her diploma after Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Chris Ray talks to the graduating seniors in the Class of 2022 during Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Charlotte Brooks raises her hands in the air Friday, May 27, 2022, after hearing that she had earned a scholarship. The announcement came during Yampa Valley High School's graduation ceremony at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Yampa Valley High School’s Class of 2022 — from left, Zachary Partlow, Luis Simon, Makyla Kusy, Veronika Simonsen, Alexis Matthews, Charlotte Brooks and Claire Connell — jump for joy after their graduation ceremony on Friday May 27, 2022, at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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