Longhorn seniors clear final hurdles to graduate from Basalt High School

The BHS Class of 2022 received their diplomas during Saturday’s ceremony

Students toss their caps into the air in celebration at the end of the Basalt High School graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21, 2022, inside the BHS gymnasium.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Andrew Huntsman and Ralph Smalley were chosen by the seniors to give the class address during Basalt High School’s graduation ceremony Saturday. This had the two BHS teachers questioning the legitimacy of those diplomas they were about to hand out.

“Definitely not their first bad decision, and probably won’t be their last,” Huntsman quipped to the Class of 2022 about its selection. “In reality, your class had to face a tremendous amount of adversity throughout school. Online school, in-person school, online slash in-person school, in-person school when the teachers were online, teachers mumbling through masks, and countless last-minute changes, like an indoor graduation.”

Nearly 100 Basalt students graduated Saturday inside the BHS gymnasium. Normally held outside on the football field, an overnight winter storm forced school officials to move the event into the main gym.

Just another hurdle to overcome for a class that has had to overcome its fair share of them over the past four years as Longhorns.

“We all dealt with COVID, switching to online learning and the excitement of switching back to in-person. We made it past all the trials and tribulations and got to experience our senior year,” BHS Salutatorian Francesca Savi said during her speech.

“For the last 13 years, we have grown together in both height and maturity. We have made mistakes and learned from them. We have built friendships and watched them fade. We have been through events in our community that others may never understand. We’ve had the fortune of having our teachers educate in a way that not only helps us with issues in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom, too.”

BHS Principal Peter Mueller kicked off the ceremony, pointing out a handful of students. This included Marlon Nelson, whose bear hug of Mueller in the school hallway back in December when students returned to the classroom left quite the impression on the longtime administrator.

Basalt High School Valedictorian Emma Borchers, right, smiles as she moves her tassel to signify she has graduated during the BHS graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Basalt.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Then there was Hanna Faulhaber, who captivated the entire Roaring Fork Valley this winter when she made the U.S. Olympic team for halfpipe skiing and carved out some time during spring training to walk across the stage and graduate in person Saturday.

“What I so appreciate about Marlon and this class is not just how you finished, but about how you learned in the process,” Mueller said. “The Class of 2022 has learned a lot these last four years. Overcoming adversity? Check. Seeing the joy in each other’s mask-free face? Check. Realizing that life is not about remote learning? Check, double check and check again.”

Along with Savi, Valedictorian Emma Borchers addressed her classmates, bringing up her own personal struggles this past year that she hopes will only make her stronger as she heads to Dartmouth.

“Personally, this past year was one of the most challenging of my life. I faced an event that no one could have prepared me for, one that flipped my life around,” Borchers said. “After this challenge, I emerged a better version of myself. I was prepared to work harder, in school and out of school, to prove to myself that the challenge I faced didn’t define me.”

Gallery caption: Photos: Basalt High School graduation

Before the seniors were allowed to walk across the stage, an impressive percentage of the class was recognized as having received the school district’s seal of biliteracy, and two new names were added to the school’s “Wall of Fame” in Gage Reuss and Zulma Garcia Rivas.

“We wish we could tell you that the pandemic is over and everything will be easy. Unfortunately, life can be relentless and the challenges just keep coming,” Huntsman said during the class address.

“This class has also taught us the necessity of sacrifice in order to succeed. So, if you want to be an Olympian, or if you want to be great at anything, you have to work at it. We know you will have opportunities to succeed, but it won’t come without a cost. It won’t come without dedication, hard work and finding joy in what you do. And you guys find joy really well.”

Aspen High School’s graduation is scheduled for June 4.