Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Another school year has drawn to a close at Mile High Academy (MHA). And, as the first week of summer break officially begins, the school’s hallways are quiet except for teachers busy boxing up leftover classroom items. However, just last week, the school was abuzz with excitement and celebration as MHA prepared to graduate 50 students.

The first class to graduate was the kindergarten class. Eleven graduates, displaying a mixture of excited and nervous grins, marched towards the front of the gym on May 16 to be recognized for their outstanding academic achievements. Parents’ cameras flashed as the students led the program, which included prayers, songs, poems, and heartwarming family tributes. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of certificates and the movement of tassels, symbolizing the class has officially moved from kindergarten to first grade.

When asked about what she loved about kindergarten and her favorite memory from the school year, Jaylee shared, “I loved art, and my favorite memory was the pajama day on the last day of school when you got to bring snacks.”

On May 17, the gym was transformed with an arch of blue, black, white, and gold balloons as 22 eighth graders made their entrance. After students offered a warm welcome and prayer, the audience enjoyed pre-recorded parent tributes coordinating with a mixture of student photos. The guest speaker for the evening, Coach Michael Camacho, MHA athletic director, took the podium to inspire the students with words of encouragement. He urged them to “embrace change, overcome challenges, pursue your dreams, make a difference, embrace leadership, and cherish the memories we have shared.” He concluded with the reminder to always trust in God’s unwavering love.

Rachel Philpott, one of the newly graduated students, said she is “looking forward to helping work at some of the athletic summer camps and relaxing at home.” When asked about her expectations about upper school, she said, “I’m looking forward to meeting new friends and going on tournaments.”

For the 17 of the senior class graduates of 2023, MHA organized three additional events leading up to Commencement. The first event, Senior Blessing, was held May 18 at LifeSource Adventist Fellowship. This private gathering was an opportunity for the graduates to enjoy time with their families and teachers. While being recognized for their unique qualities and achievements, they received a special blessing from their parents. The students also received their scholarships from Non-MAUC Adventist Universities and additional colleges/universities that currently total over $1.7 million.

The second event, Consecration, was held May 19 at Littleton Adventist Church. Special tributes were offered to each graduates’ families, and Bibles signed by the teachers and staff were also presented to the students. This year, two students chose to commit their lives to Christ through a special baptism. Paul Negrete, MHA senior class parent and the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) associate superintendent of education, delivered a speech highlighting the sacrifice of Jesus and the promise Jesus is coming again. He condensed these two truths into one statement, “Behold the Lamb of God,” and challenged the students to live with this purpose in mind.

The third event, the Baccalaureate, took place Sabbath morning, May 20, and was hosted at Denver South Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Seniors lead out in the church service and Rebecca Berg, an MHA upper schoolteacher, delivered the sermon. She shared how special this class was to her and reminisced about the memories they had created together. Berg also focused on the class aim of “Act with Intention” and encouraged the students to reflect on their intentions as they leave MHA to begin their next journey.

Finally, the Commencement ceremony brought the MHA senior class of 2023 together with their families and friends to the MHA gymnasium at 8:30 p.m. Clad in their blue gowns, the Seniors made their entrance, followed by a heartfelt prayer by Mic Thurber, the RMC president.

Clarissa Suyatno, MHA senior class president, offered the class history and president’s address before Christina Hernández, MHA teacher, delivered the graduation speech. Hernández reminded the students that their achievements were worth the work, the tears, and the late nights. At the close of the ceremony, the graduates proudly walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and participate in the symbolic movement of their tassels. They walked down the aisle amongst cheers and pyrotechnics, marking the beginning of the next chapter in their lives.

When asked to reflect on her upper school days, Giselle Negrete said, “I will miss playing sports with my friends, singing together, and just hanging out in the classroom. Those memories are some that I will cherish forever.”

To watch the recorded graduation ceremonies or access the printed programs, visit https://www.milehighacademy.org/2023graduation

—Karrie Meyers is the marketing and development coordinator at Mile High Academy. Photos supplied.