Graduation 2020: Aspen High School valedictorian Quinn Ramberg’s commencement speech
Aspen High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian
I would like to welcome all the Hondas, Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, Volkswagens, and more to the 131st Aspen High School graduation — I’m glad everyone found a parking spot. Don’t forget to put money in the meter — I heard the parking attendant was making rounds.
While we’re not gathered in the Music Tent, I can’t help but feel fortunate to be a part of this momentous day in such a beautiful place. It was truly an incredible effort by Tharyn Mulberry, the School District Administration, and many parents for organizing this special day on such short notice. I think that deserves a round of applause. Just because I can’t hear you, doesn’t mean I can’t see you.
I want to take the time to express my appreciation to my parents, Bari and Ken, for their unrelenting support in all of my endeavors. I also want to say thank you to my brother for always keeping the mood light and making me laugh, and the incredible faculty and staff that do a great job teaching us. Marc Whitley, Sarah Benson, Megan Noonan and Shawn Robinson — you have fostered my interest in STEM and truly changed the course of my life. Also, the incredible College Counseling office deserves my sincerest thank you for their unwavering support in helping me and all of us reach our educational goals. And, a huge thank you to the unsung heroes of the school district — the facilities crew — for keeping our campus looking beautiful.
And most importantly, I want to recognize what we are parked here to celebrate, the amazing class of 2020. Everybody put your hands together.
I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to speak in front of you today, and I want to use this time to discuss something that is important to me: resilience. And I want to start by sharing a story about my grandma. Don’t worry, you’re actually going to like this one.
My Grandma Connie used to love the book “The Little Engine That Could.” The book tells the story of a train carrying toys and food for the children in the next town over; however the engine runs out of coal and is unable to make it up a large hill. Several other engines pass by without offering to help. That is, until the Little Engine that Could arrives at the scene. Despite never having made it up the hill herself, she pulled the stranded engine up the hill saying “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
Although it sounds silly, this mantra has served as a guiding principle in my life. Whenever I face a difficult challenge, I repeat “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” As most of you know, I had a bit of an accident on my eighth grade Outdoor Education trip. A large tree branch at Snowmass Lake impaled my right leg, resulting in a 5-by-5-inch hole down to the bone.
Being 9 miles away from the closest road in the evening, there was no way I was getting down that night. In my tent that night, I was scared. I couldn’t put any weight on the leg. However, that night, I told myself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Eventually, the sun rose, and Tim Grogan and Craig Rogers carried me on their backs while running down the trail. Yes, I was pretty small.
But I’m not the only one in my class who knows how to persevere. Evan Pearce earned his pilot license over the last four years, Jake Bozza is a state-ranked climber. Axel Livingston has already held an art exhibition. Morgan Witt works hard to embody a new character every time she is on-stage, and Belle Kowar won nationals for ice dancing.
These accomplishments are true demonstrations of perseverance. During this difficult time, it’s so important to recognize the undeniable value of resilience.
And in my experience, I found one of the best ways to foster resilience is through gratefulness. So, to conclude, I want each of you to take a minute and think of one thing you are grateful for. I am grateful to be part of such a fantastic community who cares so deeply about each other. And as we all start college or our new jobs I hope we all look back on this time when things get rough and remember “We think we can, we think we can, we think we can.”
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The Aspen and Carbondale community schools will hold a mid-May fundraiser that they hope will set them on the right financial path for 2021-22.