AHS senior class of `characters’ prepares for its future flights | AspenTimes.com

AHS senior class of `characters’ prepares for its future flights

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

With Frank Sinatra singing “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away,” the Aspen High School senior class marched into its very last assembly Thursday.

When they marched out of the community theater to the song “Leaving On A Jet Plane” an hour and a half later, a few dozen had been awarded for their academic, athletic, vocational and avocational achievements, and five teachers had received Distinguished Teacher awards with a $10,000 check.

The “fly away” theme of the assembly had the seniors “boarding” their “plane” – which was really the theater stage – out of adolescence. Many were clad as if going on vacation, others were towing a suitcase on wheels. The senior class officers were dressed as flight attendants and an airline captain.

“Welcome to First Class Airlines Flight 2003, with nonstop service to the future,” flight attendant Melinda Engelman said to an auditorium full of underclassmen, parents and teachers.

Outgoing Superintendent Tom Farrell introduced the class of 2003. “This is a class of strong character – with many characters, I might say – and deserves to be labeled first class,” he said.

Teachers Judy Wrigley and George Burson, both 30-year veterans of the profession, hosted the remainder of the assembly and called up each department to give out its awards.

A number of students received multiple awards, like Fallon Feast, who was called up by teachers four times for awards that recognized her skills in subjects ranging from English to mathematics.

Others like John H. Stewart were given a single award. His came in Spanish, and it was partly due to his great attitude, even though one day he stood up and said, “Nothing personal, but there’s 2 feet of snow on the mountain. I’ve got to leave.”

Lauren Gillin stepped up near the end of the assembly and recited from memory (which held up through most of her performance) a poem she’d written titled “Here’s to you.”

The Distinguished Teachers were French teacher Kathie Burson, English teacher Andy Popinchalk, science teachers Mark Whiteley and Travis Moore, and counselor Geraldine Graham.

The remaining five Distinguished Teacher awards for this year, which come with a $10,000 check, will be given out today to teachers in the middle and elementary schools. The awards are given annually to 10 teachers in recognition of their performance in the classroom and school. The monetary awards are made possible by developer Dick Butera.

The seniors are scheduled to graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Music Tent.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]

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