Class of 2012 – largest in history – graduates from Aspen High School
May 27, 2012
ASPEN – The largest senior class in Aspen High School history graduated Saturday during a formal ceremony at the Benedict Music Tent on the Aspen Meadows campus.
Musical performances were a big part of the two-hour event. The Roaring Fork Music Society, Aspen School District Band and the Aspen High School choir kicked things off for the 141 students and their relatives, friends and well-wishers. Later, graduate Jordan Menter played a Claude Debussy composition, First Arabesque, on the piano; two other seniors, Zoe Levine and Ryan Fahy, entertained the crowd with the Stevie Nicks composition “Landslide.”
Ski-clothing pioneer Klaus Obermeyer, 92, provided a 20-minute commencement address. The German-born Aspenite talked about his beginnings, his love of skiing and some of his many accomplishments before offering the graduates some simple advice:
“When you aim at something, you will reach it,” he said. “Figure out what you would like to do, and you can do it. Aim is a very powerful thing. Anything is possible.”
He suggested that the graduates, whether embarking on a college career or entering the work force, should try to pursue something they love. He told the students they would face many future obstacles but reminded them that most of life’s challenges aren’t insurmountable.
“Some things are not so easy,” Obermeyer said. “I would, if I were you, greet problems as friends because it’s the problems that teach us. A problem always has an opportunity attached to it, though some are hard to find.”
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He said the students were fortunate to attend Aspen High School, which recently ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 59 in a national evaluation of high schools by U.S. News and World Report.
“You have been able to go to a school that is unique in the world. There is no other school in the world like Aspen High School, where you have a ski lift right by the back door,” Obermeyer said. He capped off the remarks with his trademark yodel.
The class of 2012’s salutatorians are Molly Rosenstein and Menter. Michael Zimet, who recently was named a National Merit Scholar and will attend Harvard University in the fall, is the valedictorian.
Zimet said he wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on a lesson he learned during his years at Aspen High.
“My first piece of advice comes from my classmates,” he said. “They’ve been telling me this repeatedly over the years and I’m finally internalizing it. And that advice is this: Chill out, brah!”
Zimet said there is ample reason for graduates to be pessimistic about the world’s future.
“Slow economic recovery, a weak job market, climate change, resource scarcity and poverty all seem like daunting challenges our parents’ generation has left for us to fix,” he joked.
The Principal’s Award went to Ian Sharp, a member of the National Honor Society and an honors graduate. Interim Principal David Schmid said Sharp has muscular dystrophy, a disorder that involves muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue that gets worse over time.
“This is an award that is not even given every year unless there is a student that is so deserving,” he said. “The criteria for this award includes high achievement, not only academically but also socially and emotionally, even though the student is dealing with significant issues in their own life.”
Schmid, who temporarily took the helm of Aspen High in January following the abrupt departure of Art Ablemann, soon will leave the school to become principal of Basalt High. He said one of his biggest regrets of his short time in Aspen was that he had not gotten to know Sharp better.
“As one veteran teacher recently said, ‘Ian is one of the greatest students I’ve ever taught. He is genuine, caring, curious and hardworking. In many ways he is the most mature student I’ve ever worked with,’ ” Schmid said.
“Ian was given his path, and he’s making a difference, letting the world know how each person can live, even with unplanned, undeserved, unpredictable circumstances,” he said. “This award is not being given to Ian because he has MD, but because of how he’s responded to having MD.”