Graduation 2020: Basalt High co-valedictorians to lead graduating class during Saturday ceremony
For the better part of her junior and senior years at Basalt High School, Sasha Brucker lived in Canada to play hockey and attended BHS remotely. Her plan had been to return home this spring for a final few months in the classroom with her peers and maybe play on the Longhorn soccer team before the novel coronavirus pandemic changed all that.
“I was planning on coming back and seeing all my classmates again for the last three months of school. Obviously, I haven’t been able to see them and I’m really excited to be able to catch up with them and see all their faces one more time,” Brucker said. “The senior class in Basalt has definitely gone through quite a lot the past few years. We are hanging in there.”
Despite her remote learning, Brucker did enough to still be named co-valedictorian for the BHS class of 2020, alongside close friend Anne Schrock. The two will give a joint speech during Saturday’s 9 a.m. drive-in graduation ceremony in front of the high school, which is being limited to students, immediate family and staff. BHS plans to hold a car parade through Basalt and Willits immediately following the ceremony.
“We want to try to somewhat inspire our classmates, but we were also hoping to bring some light-hearted humor into it,” Schrock said of their speech. “Obviously it’s an unconventional ceremony that we are having, but knowing that we’ve all been through a lot and we’ve been through it all together, I’m really excited to get back together with them and celebrate everything and be together one last time as a class.”
Here’s a closer look at both of Basalt’s class of 2020 co-valedictorians:
HOCKEY FUELS BRUCKER’S PLANS
Brucker once played for Aspen Junior Hockey, including the first AA girls team that made it to the national tournament. But the constant travel wore on her, so she took an opportunity to move to Ontario and play through the Hockey Training Institute near Barrie.
After graduation, and once the pandemic has passed, Brucker hopes to return to Canada to play hockey during her gap year before moving onto college a year later. Given a choice, she’d like to play hockey for Yale University in Connecticut. But she’s also willing to keep her options open in regard to both hockey and her academics.
When she finally makes it into the college classroom, Brucker has plans to take a pre-med route, although even that remains in flux.
“My goal is to play at Yale. I was talking to them a bit this season, but it just didn’t work out, but they are still interested for 2021,” Brucker said. “I can’t really imagine going to school and not doing something that I love at the same time. But if it comes down to it, if I get into an amazing school without hockey, then I might just go to school and maybe play club or something. Because definitely education is more important.”
Even though she spent most of the past two years in Canada away from her classmates, Brucker feels a special bond with this group and is excited to represent Basalt as a graduate and as one of its valedictorians.
“For me, it’s just kind of a validation of having to work a little extra hard to do school on my own time,” Brucker said. “I’m excited I get to be part of Basalt High School in this big of a way, even though I wasn’t necessarily there the whole time. I’ve gone to Basalt my whole life and I always wanted to be part of the school.”
SCHROCK OFF TO THE BIG APPLE
Schrock has had her eyes set on Columbia University for a few years now. Since a trip to the school’s New York City campus ahead of her sophomore year, there was little doubt about her goals.
“I visited Columbia and I really like the city and I love the campus,” Schrock said. “It will be a transition for sure, but I’m excited for the change and living in the city.”
She was especially drawn to Columbia’s Core Curriculum, which requires undergraduates to take classes in many areas. This is a fit for Schrock, who has a multitude of academic interests. For example, she plans to double major in English and physics, two areas of study that couldn’t be further apart.
“I’m not really sure how exactly I want to fit them together, but they are the two things I really fell in love with in high school,” Schrock said. “I just like the idea that you are trying to understand the mechanical aspect of the world around you and pairing it with English, I’m able to understand more of the social impacts and more humanities.”
Schrock is the middle of three girls. Her older sister, Kate Schrock, was a 2018 BHS graduate and standout athlete who currently is studying exercise science at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Her younger sister, Grace Schrock, will graduate from BHS next year and also is a standout Longhorn athlete.
Anne Schrock said she enjoyed working with Brucker on their co-valedictorian speech.
“I thought it was easier, because we had a lot of the same things we wanted to say to the class,” Schrock said, “so being able to combine them and work together on a speech that would bring in the humor part and some good inspiring words we want to say, I thought it went really well.”
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In the 2022 iteration of the statewide Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado survey, 19 educators from Aspen public schools reported that they were considering leaving the field of education altogether at the end of this school year. That accounts for almost 13% of the Aspen School District staff members who completed the survey this year.