Family, friends, teachers, school district staff and board members and others gathered on the lawn behind the Grand County High School on May 30 to honor the high school’s graduating class of 2019. The graduation marked the hundredth since the school was formed.
Each graduate’s name was called; the student body president and co-valedictorians all gave speeches; the marching band played; the senior vocal group sang, and graduating songwriter Dasia Faye Gibbs wrote and performed her original song “This is It” at the ceremony.
The memory of departed class member Connor Craig Denney, who died in a car crash in March 2017, was also honored during the ceremony. His family accepted a memorial diploma certificate from Principal Steve Hren on stage.
The night’s commencement speaker, language arts teacher Alanna Simmons-Cameron, started teaching at GCHS the same year many of the students entered into high school.
In her speech, Simmons-Cameron described the changes she experienced herself, beginning in Moab as a self-described “middle aged” mother with stiff posture. She said she now wears jeans to school “every day” and felt a stronger connection to her students to the point that she felt she was graduating with them.
Simmons-Cameron also described, individually, the transformations she saw some of her students make from the ages of 14 to 18. Some went from timid to confident; others from brash to perceptive.
In her eyes, all of them collectively possess the positive qualities of the paradigmatic outlaw hero of the old American West, a stock character many of her students would recognize from English class.
Student Body President Jarett Kyler Reidhead also spoke during the ceremony, as did Co-Valedictorians Kasey Michael Kemp and Teddy Jin-Kyun Park. Nicki and Steve Hazlett were honored with the Circle of Honor Award for their longtime pivotal support of Moab’s schools.
Note: The version of this story that appeared in the June 6 print edition of The Times-Independent incorrectly stated that the Class of 2019 was the high school’s 100th class.
The earliest yearbook from the school was published in 1919. However, as an independent school, GCHS began graduating seniors as early as 1909.