Steamboat Mountain School seniors graduate after they ’aced’ pandemic |

Steamboat Mountain School seniors graduate after they ’aced’ pandemic

The start time was moved up last minute. There were alternative plans to pick up a chair and hastily make way into the gym. Graduation at Steamboat Mountain School was ready to be flexible — just like the class of 2021.

Luckily, the sun shone throughout the ceremony Sunday morning with only a slight breeze blowing between the aspens on the school’s campus just north of Steamboat Springs.

“Our class traded prom dresses and suits for Plexiglas barriers and facemasks. We had to adapt and work even harder to complete our high school experience with some sense of normalcy,” Jackson Beal told his fellow graduates in a speech. “In this moment, we shined. … We didn’t just get through this pandemic, we aced it.”

Steamboat Mountain School graduate Sidney Barbier receives her diploma from Head of School Meg Morse. Barbier will attend the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music next fall. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

Beal, who won the school’s Head of School award, is one of 17 graduates from Steamboat Mountain School this spring. Ten of them are headed to colleges across the country, two will ski for the United States Ski Team, and four others are devoting the next year to alpine ski racing.

In his address, Beal, who will be attending the United States Coast Guard Academy, likened the class’ experience through high school to climbing the Manitou Springs Incline near Colorado Springs.

“The Manitou incline consists of 2,768 painfully intense steps and is the beginning of the hike up Pikes Peak,” Beal said. “For four years, Steamboat Mountain School presented us with step after step to prepare us for what would be the climb ahead.”

Jackson Beal drew comparisons between his classes experience at Steamboat Mountain School and climbing the Manitou Springs Incline, saying it was just the start of a larger journey. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

Head of School Meg Morse said these students were fortunate to be somewhat insulated from the pandemic compared to peers in larger schools, but it still loomed.

“It is just always on your mind, you are waiting for that next thing to happen,” Morse said. “Getting to this moment … just feels great, because these guys deserve it.”

Each of the graduates will have their names on a leaf that will go on a tree sculpture on the school’s campus installed last year to commemorate the class of 2020, which did not get a graduation. This year is Morse’s last as head of school, and compounded with her son’s graduation from the school, she said it was “an incredibly emotional day.”

Diploma in hand, Bode Flanigan celebrates as the graduates walk through a procession after Steamboat Mountain School's graduation ceremony. Flanigan will spend the next year alpine ski racing. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

“This school does remarkable things with students,” Morse said. “Having my last opportunity to really sort of lead that has, particularly in this crazy circumstance, been really meaningful for me.”

Traveling is an emphasis at the school and graduate Mason Voyvodic said he went to India, Columbia, Tanzania and the U.S border in Texas in the past four years through the school’s global studies program. For Voyvodic, it isn’t what he learned on these trips but what he didn’t.

“I’ve learned that I need to experience more things before I can actually understand and have strong opinions I try to influence people with,” Voyvodic said. “I’ve learned so much about so many different things on those trips, and I want to be able to keep doing that.”

Steamboat Mountain School graduate Joelie Hovey shakes hands with Head of School Meg Morse just after receiving her diploma. Hovey will be attending Bates College in Maine next fall. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

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