Wind storms, lemons and defining success: Soroco graduates 21 Saturday morning (with photo gallery) |

Wind storms, lemons and defining success: Soroco graduates 21 Saturday morning (with photo gallery)

Tyler Koler-Wixom is all smiles during the Soroco High School graduation ceremony Saturday morning.

Soroco High School salutatorian Spencer Ashley told his class a story during his speech at graduation Saturday. He stood before his 20 classmates and a full crowd at the Soroco football field and shared a tale from a few weeks ago that a portion of his graduating class had lived through as well.

He and some friends were at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument, setting up camp, when a gust of wind ripped through the campground, toppling tents, tossing tables and causing the campfire to spread into some nearby grass. Ashley’s friend and fellow graduate, Alex Colby, who is on crutches, was slammed in the back by a table and knocked to the ground.

Ashley said not only is that story proof that his class is ready to step out into the world, but they won’t be alone. Just like the teachers they had, the family that raised them and the friends who stuck by them, there will be people wherever they are headed next.

“Anywhere you go, there will be people there for you,” he said. “Not even a full minute after the wind died down, the campground came alive with strangers helping strangers. They are people who came to tend to our fallen comrade before they had even found their tent. They didn’t know if they were going to have shelter that night, and yet their first concern was the safety of a complete stranger. … To an outsider, it may have looked like we all knew each other.”

As scary as graduating and moving to the next step in life may seem, there will be people there to guide the Class of 2021, and they will be ready to accept that help.

Valedictorian Sienna Russell also mentioned that camping trip. She said looking back on the memory as a joyful one proves that success isn’t determined by luck and having a path paved for you, as some may think.

“Sometimes, life will give you lemons. Other times, it will send a flying table, a forest fire and a small hurricane,” she said. “You need to roll with the punches and take everything in stride. Reshape the experience and use it as a stepping stone in your vision to success.”

For the Class of 2021, success looks different for each graduate. William Clark is headed to the Marines, Gregory Rubalcaba is on his way to the NASCAR Technical Institute, Tyler Koler-Wixom will go north to the University of Wyoming, and many are joining the workforce.

Commencement speaker Jay Whaley took a moment to reminisce about his graduation back in 1992. He said he couldn’t remember his commencement speaker or what he said. He didn’t remember test scores or assignments.

What he does remember is being proud to be a Ram. He remembers who he sat next to and the memories he made with them.

“It’s the memories we have and the relationships with friends and teachers that will stick in your mind,” Whaley said.

Spencer Ashley – Colorado School of Mines

Dakota Barnhill – workforce

Michael Boleng – workforce

Skyler Clark – Life University

William Clark – Marine Corps

Alex Colby – Fort Lewis College

Chase de la Mater – Northeastern Junior College

Kaetlyn Friedman – Conners State University

Avery Hazlett – Colorado Mountain College

Brisa Karow – Northern Arizona University

Tyler Koler-Wixom – University of Wyoming

Kody Logan – workforce

Makinley Parker – Colorado Mesa University

Emily Romero – Northeastern Junior College

Gregory Rubalcaba – NASCAR Technical Institute

Sienna Russell – Colorado University Boulder

Matthew Sullivan – Grand Canyon State

Reina Thomas – workforce

Allen Wickham – workforce

Cutter Wiggins – Southeast Lineman Training Center

Liam Yaconiello – Colorado School of Mines

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