Aspen seniors ‘uniquely united’ one last time |

Aspen seniors ‘uniquely united’ one last time

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Saturday, 129 Aspen High School seniors will walk across the stage at the Benedict Music Tent. From there, the students will go almost everywhere.

Of the 95 percent attending college this fall, 42 percent are leaving Colorado ” to 44 states and four different countries.

That alone makes the class of 2008 a unique one, said college counselor Kathy Klug. Traditionally, many students have stayed in the state.

“It’s impressive that they’ve investigated their educational options and they’re really embracing them,” Klug said.

Speaking glowingly of the class, Klug was clear that the students’ “fiercely independent” nature challenged her as a counselor.

“When you’re counseling them, you really have to counsel with them, and not for them,” she explained. “That’s really exciting when you see that kind of maturity.”

Although many boys were in the top 10 percent of the class, the top three students were all girls.

Katherine Fahy and Natalie Obermeyer are the co-valedictorians and Annie Buettow is the salutatorian. All three will speak at Saturday’s commencement ceremony.

So will social studies teacher Kirk Gregory; he was chosen by the students to address them on the class theme, “uniquely united.”

Klug said the theme speaks to the particularly eclectic nature of the class.

“They’re very whole when they’re together, but they’re very different people,” she explained.

Even so, Klug said the sum of all the students makes a smart class.

“If you have a 3.5 (grade point average) in this class, that’s pretty normal,” she said.

The graduates are versatile as well. Klug points out, for example, that student Haley Kaufman will appear on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” next week to talk about her volunteer work in Africa.

The community will reward the graduates with about $300,000 in scholarship money, according to Klug. Karen Angus, a counselor retiring this year, has grown the fund from a few thousand dollars to its present size, Klug said.

“[The graduation ceremony] is not just about the kids. It’s about our community, how we support education, how education is a value here,” Klug said.

When the ceremony ends, the students will celebrate together one last time, at the Aspen Club. Owner Michael Fox donates the facility each year so students can have a safe graduation night. Until 4:15 a.m., the students will partake of everything from magicians to manicures.

Then they will head out to the rest of the world.

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