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007: ‘Agents of change’

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

ASPEN A total of 126 seniors will cross the stage as the Aspen High School Class of 2007 during graduation ceremonies at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Aspen Music Festival’s Benedict Music Tent.There will be addresses by valedictorian Matthew Beirne (bound for Duke University) and by co-salutatorians Laura Hatanaka (College of Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder) and Lyla Walter (Carleton College), as well as by the commencement speaker, Lee T. Bycel.Bycel is executive director for the Western Region of American Jewish World Service – an international development organization dedicating to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality, and is affiliated with the Aspen Institute, according to information the school provided.Hatanaka and Walter, in light of the unusual situation (their GPAs were a tie – to several decimal places, they said) spent the last week working together to write their speech and will deliver it together – alternating paragraphs.In addition to the addresses, there will be announcements of more than 25 grants, scholarships and other monetary awards to the students.

Announcements will range from a portion of $33,000 in scholarships the Aspen Board of Realtors is handing out to graduates valleywide – a program that began more than 20 years ago and has produced a total of $267,000 in scholarships for students with financial need – to grants focusing on everything from sports to the arts.The theme this year is a play on James Bond’s agent number – 007. A logo for the class, with a mortarboard perched rakishly atop the first “0,” adorns T-shirts, programs for the graduation ceremonies and other memorabilia.Graduating senior Hannah Gilmore designed the logo, and the school’s college counselor, Kathy Klug, described the theme as “a cross between James Bond and ‘Mission: Impossible” – or Mission Possible – which is their goal to leave the world a bit better.”As part of Saturday’s program, students will entertain the audience with four separate musical acts, including two that Klug said are original works.’Millenniums’ matriculateKlug, who has taken to referring to the class as “agents of change,” noted that the students are members of the millennium generation – born after 1974 and 77 million strong.

“They are the biggest group ever,” Klug said, “bigger than the boomers,” which she said has translated into greater difficulty nationwide in terms of getting into good colleges.But, she said, 115 of the AHS graduating seniors are heading off to colleges, universities and other higher education programs.Among those headed for continuing education, according to a list the school compiled, are Alexander Burckhart who will attend the London School of Art specializing in automotive design; Dylan Bontempo, is heading for the Franklin College of Switzerland; and Boris Joseph will be finish two years of high school-level classes in India even though he has graduated here. The remaining 11 have opted for what Klug calls a “gap year” between high school and college.Klug attributed the high level of matriculation, in large part, to the fact that most have spent a good portion of the last year and a half in the college application process, beginning with a series of college prep workshops in the fall of their junior year.The annual College Fair – planned this year for Oct. 7 – has helped local students get to know more about the schools they’ve been thinking about, and helped college admissions officials gain a more personal understanding of the students from this area, Klug said.Among the benefits of the intensive college preparations, she added, is the fact many students found themselves having to choose from a list of schools that offered admission.



Those lists sometimes included up to seven schools, as in the case of Christen Boyer, who ultimately chose the Colorado School of Mines, to the nine schools that accepted Scott Clancy, before he chose the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.Other students, such as Rory Suma, have chosen less traditional paths. Suma is going on what Klug calls a LEAP Year, meaning a year of education abroad through travel and group study in the Lifelong Education Alternatives Program in California.Valleywide exercisesThe AHS ceremonies are part of a series of commencement exercises from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, all taking place Saturday, except for Bridges High School in the Roaring Fork School District, at 4 p.m. today at Sunlight Mountain Resort.Glenwood Springs High School will hold its ceremonies at Stubler Field beginning at 10 a.m. Basalt High School’s commencement will be at 1 p.m. in the BHS gym, and the Roaring Fork High School graduation exercises will be at 4 p.m. in the school gym.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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