Telluride High School Class of 2012 held their graduation ceremony Friday afternoon at the Michael D. Palm Theatre. Today, Saturday, June 2, there was another celebration at the Palm. In this case it was a celebration of the life of our lovely and beloved friend, Judge Sharon Shuteran. What do these two events have in common? For both occasions the hall was filled, and besides the friends and family who had journeyed here from distant places (Telluride people have mostly moved here from someplace else), the community of Telluride showed up in numbers. Why? Because we are all family.

We had lunch with a friend outside on our patio yesterday and the question was asked: What makes Telluride special, why would one choose to live here rather than any one of many resort communities, or for that matter, any town? Some of the reasons were manifest and obvious: the beautiful mountains that define our little box canyon, the San Miguel River rushing through Telluride before meandering through the Valley Floor, the seemingly unlimited opportunities to enjoy outdoor living at any season of the year. Beyond that we agreed that Telluride from first sight had called us in a particular way, and most of the people we know would say the same thing, that this commonality rather than common backgrounds fosters the sense of community that is so evident in this little town.

Thus it was interesting to hear the young people on the stage speak about the importance of the community at large in their development. The graduating class is small enough that each of the young people gave a short statement, and the common threads were love of this town and appreciation for the support of the adults in the community. And several speakers paid homage to Sharon Shuteran as one of the Telluridians who had made a difference in their individual lives. There were shout-outs to parents who had supported, guided, loved their kids. These parents are our friends and it felt good to hear them so beautifully acknowledged.

Out of this class of 41 young men and women, the majority are going on to colleges around the region and nationally, two are going directly into military service, and a few foreign exchange students are returning to their home countries. As impressive as the list of schools our graduates are going to is the list of local organizations and individuals making the financial commitment to help our young people. In fact there are more scholarships than graduates and several of them support more than one student.

These young women and men have excelled at their studies, they have excelled on the athletic fields and in the mountains, they have excelled in the arts, and they have excelled in service to their community. Now we send them, with some sadness but mostly hope, to the world. Many of them will be in the front lines in the battle to make right what our generation and many before ours have made wrong. They have a model out any window in the little world they are temporarily leaving behind. In their words one could hear enthusiasm for the challenges ahead.

So we say “So long for now” to the 2012 graduating class of Telluride High School and to our friend, mentor, example of our better selves, Sharon Shuteran. We will miss you. But we know your spirits are with us.

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