Boulder High School’s Carson Besser hugs a classmate after receiving his diploma Sunday during the school’s graduation ceremony at the CU Events Center on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. This is the first year the school has hosted an indoor ceremony.

Editor’s note: Sunday’s ceremony was not the first time Boulder High hosted commencement indoors. The story below has been updated to reflect that.

As family and friends gathered to celebrate the class of 2019 from Boulder and Fairview high schools, all of their beaming, radiant faces had a story to tell of joy, happiness, pride and hope tinged with caution.

Sunday was the last day of a weekend of graduations for Boulder Valley School District, with Fairview High celebrating its graduates in the afternoon at 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, while Boulder High hosted its graduates at the CU Events Center on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. It had been tradition to host the Boulder High graduation at 8 a.m. Saturday at the school’s Recht Field, but after last year’s ceremony was drenched in freezing rain, the decision was made to move the ceremony indoors.

Fairview High School's Izzy Dever celebrates ...
Fairview High School’s Izzy Dever celebrates after receiving her diploma Sunday during the school’s graduation ceremony at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield.

At both venues, the chosen student speakers fondly remembered their time in high school and how it shaped them for the challenges ahead. Their words and expressions were different, but there was one mantra of the day for all the graduating seniors: Make your own destiny.

At the CU Events Center, Ron Taylor became emotional talking about his granddaughter Hannah Taylor Roth’s graduation from Boulder High. “I’ve been waiting for it for so long. It means everything to me. It’s like having a daughter all over again,” said Taylor, who lives in Boston and Naples, Fla.

Hannah will be studying psychology at Suffolk University in Boston, he said.

Boulder High School’s Hailey Andresen waves to her family Sunday during the graduation ceremony at the CU Events Center on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.

At 1st Bank Center Laura Uthoff and her friend cheered loudly when a voice on the loudspeaker said “John Austin.”

“That’s my son,” she said. “I’m very, very proud of him,” said the mother of the Fairview graduate. “It’s been 18 years of hard work, raising my kids as a single mom. Now, he’s going to step out of his own.”

Her son will be studying business at Front Range Community College, she said.

The dominant theme highlighted by students and faculty who addressed Fairview’s graduating class characterized life as a ride with its ups and down that’s to be enjoyed. The sentiment echoed the class motto, written by Dr. Seuss: “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Fairview High School’s Ellen Bartels hugs Principal Don Strensrud after receiving her diploma Sunday during the school’s graduation ceremony at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield.

Fairview High School Principal Donald Stensrud exhorted students to get life they want, sharing a story about a proud father of a girl who chose to study music in college. He was happy for the decision his daughter made, Stensrud said. “Let the kids live their dreams.”

“Don’t wait for the best things to come along. Chase after your life now,” he said. “Don’t worry class of 2019. Go out. Get a life.”

Lea Martinson, student body vice president at Fairview, talked of life being a journey and exhorted her fellow 550 graduating seniors to enjoy the process of discovery. “Each one of you has so much ahead of you,” she said.

Fairview graduation speaker Henry Rock remembered the encouragement the school provided to explore life in all its dimensions, widening horizons and providing windows to the minds of pupils. “Our minds will continue to expand because of Fairview.”

Theodore Schoenfeld of Boulder High talked about the mistakes he made during his four years, and how the school and its principal Dr. James A. Hill made him realize that failures are a part of life, helping him to strive for the best, a message he shared with all.

Ty Haney, Boulder High graduate of 2007, and founder of Outdoor Voices, technical apparel maker for recreation, gave the commencement address at Boulder High graduation. She underlined the opportunities ahead, of doing “new things, to create your own rules to the game.” Practice openness and curiosity, she said. “Life is about progress, not perfection.”

Four more high schools, Justice High, Arapahoe Campus, Boulder Prep and New Vista High, will host graduations throughout this week.

If you go

What: Boulder Valley high school graduations


  • Justice High at noon Wednesday at the Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road, Broomfield
  • Arapahoe Campus at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Fairview High School auditorium, 515 Greenbriar Blvd., Boulder
  • Boulder Prep at 9:30 a.m. Friday at The Chateaux at Fox Meadows, 13600 Xavier Lane, Broomfield
  • New Vista High at 10 a.m. Saturday at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder

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