Our View: Congratulations, Class of 2010 | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Congratulations, Class of 2010

— On Friday, the 24 seniors representing The Lowell Whiteman School's Class of 2010 will shift the tassels on their graduation caps and hurl them skyward, bringing an end not only to their secondary educations, but also to the spring graduation ceremonies that have celebrated a momentous achievement for 200-plus Routt County teens.

We expect high school graduation to be but one in a long list of lifetime accomplishments for the Class of 2010. And while each of its members prepares for his and her next steps in life, it's worth recognizing the individual and community successes that led to this point.

The Class of 2010 graduates at a time of tremendous economic struggles in our country and beyond. The timing is less significant for those going on to pursue college degrees. The challenge will be significantly greater for those graduates immediately entering the work force, as jobs are scarce and competition is fierce.

Recent efforts to better prepare those students for careers after high school are paying dividends, however. In Hayden, eight of the high school's 42 graduates left school with welding certificates in hand, thanks to teacher Kevin Kleckler and the district's Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center. It's a great example of public school systems — with significant buy-in and support from their communities and local businesses and organizations — answering the need to provide improved vocational training for students interested in successful careers but not necessarily post-secondary education.

That commitment to vocational education has been a staple in South Routt for the past three decades under the leadership of Byron Dean, who retired last month after 30 years in the district. Fortunately for the community, the future of the program is in good hands. Jay Whaley, a Routt County native, longtime 4-H extension agent and former student of Dean's, takes over the agriculture program next year.

In Steamboat, educators such as Teacher of the Year Kelly Erickson are a shining example of the dedication, time and effort that goes into the development of our children. Similar dedication from parents and community members — think Steamboat's 2010 Friend of Education Nancy Mucklow — extend that support network from beyond the classroom walls.

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The greater Routt County community never ceases to amaze with its unwavering devotion to local youths. In the midst of a crippling recession that continues to jeopardize the financial standing of many residents and businesses, local organizations still managed to provide in the neighborhood of $200,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors. Steamboat's 148 graduating seniors, for example, collected nearly $700,000 in scholarships, including $144,000 from local organizations.

Finally, not to be overlooked is the commitment of the students themselves. Every graduation season shines a spotlight on heart-warming stories such as that of Steamboat's Kathleen Dobell, who battled anorexia early in her high school career and is now the recipient of a $136,000 scholarship to attend Dartmouth College beginning in fall. She hopes to incorporate anthropology, international affairs and science to someday work in environmental conservation. Like so many of her fellow members of the Class of 2010, we're confident she'll accomplish great things.

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors and to the communities that helped them to their significant milestone. It's a feat we all should celebrate.