Longhorns graduate 81 during Saturday’s ceremony outside Basalt High School | AspenTimes.com

Longhorns graduate 81 during Saturday’s ceremony outside Basalt High School

After a brief interlude to figure out how to work the microphone stand, Drew Olson launched into his speech. Or at least, that was the idea for the Basalt High School senior during Saturday's graduation ceremony on the BHS football field.

"What am I suppose to say to a group of people I've known for my entire life that will send you out of this town with ambition and the desire to make the world a better place?" Olson asked. "And the answer is, I have no idea. But I'm also confident that I don't need to know.

"I don't need to make you all ambitious, because you already are. I don't need to light the fuse that skyrockets you to success or gives you purpose, because each of you already has the power to do that yourself."

Olson, who will attend Brown University, was the class of 2018 co-valedictorian, along with Will Orben, and was one of 81 Longhorns to walk across the stage Saturday. Orben, who will attend the University of Colorado, took a different approach in his valedictorian speech, advising his peers to enjoy the moment a bit more. According to Orben, the 2018 class is quite the ambitious bunch.

"Things don't need to be taken so seriously, and there is no such thing as a perfect, planned out life. That's the only reason why I'm worried about this class," Orben said. "It's not because I don't think you will go on to do amazing things and strive to create a better world, but because I'm worried you won't be able to satisfy yourselves. We place unnaturally high standards on ourselves."

Instead of bringing in a more traditional commencement speaker, the BHS seniors wanted to stay a little closer to home and asked science teacher Brent Hayes and choir director Brittany von Stein to do the honors. The duo paired to create one tandem speech, where they emphasized the terms "stubborn, competitive and goofy" in describing the class of 2018.

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"I know that Brittany and myself have never felt a closer connection to a graduating class than the one we have with you," Hayes said. "I knew it in the first month of your freshman year that there was something special about you and that the next four years were going to be a wild ride."

Following the class address, the BHS seniors added to the school's "Wall of Fame" by recognizing Stephanie Nevarez Ramirez and Tyler Jackson. They received the award as they best expressed "the values of the class and the legacy it wants to leave behind." Their photos will be put on display in the main hallway of the high school.

The ceremony wrapped up with the traditional tassel change and cap toss, Orben's words likely still in their minds.

"For me, it's clear there are a good amount of you sitting here that deserve to be in my place right now. I look at this class and see a group full of capable leaders and scholars," Orben said during his speech. "There will be times where we feel we are making all the wrong moves and things aren't going according to the plan, but it's important for us to remember there is no plan at all.

"We might as well make light of the mistakes and celebrate the triumphs. So today, let's just celebrate this incredible triumph we've all accomplished."

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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