Mr. Rauschkolb's Graduation Speech to the Class of 2017

Good morning and welcome to the Graduation Ceremony of Niwot High School’s Class of 2017.  My name is Eric Rauschkolb and I am the principal of Niwot High School.


During this occasion of celebration and tribute, it is important to remember that there have been both highs and lows during your four years of high school.  It is my sincere hope that there have been more highs than lows for each of you.


This year has had its share of both.  This past June we lost our beloved David Louwers in a plane crash, and we miss him dearly, think of him often, and will never forget him.  Among his classmates, we have left a chair unoccupied today in his remembrance, and we thank his family for attending our ceremony here today.  In October we lost Jared Lizakowski, who graduated last year and who had many friends in this year’s class.  


However, on the flip side of the coin, there has been a lot to celebrate.

  • Hearing Mac Black recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning has become part of our school's culture

  • Tommy Stager became a state wrestling champion, broke both the school and state records for the most wins in a high school career, and was named as the National MaxPreps Athlete of the Year

  • Student Council rocked it with a Mardi Gras Homecoming, some awesome pep assemblies, and a prom that will be remembered for many years!

  • Alexis Carroll won individual state championships in both gymnastics and track & field.

  • Margaux Randolph saved the day when a kindergartner with a disability escaped from those watching him and ran across Niwot Road.  Margaux avoided hitting him with her car, stopped, got out, and stayed with him until help arrived.  Very heroic

  • Mr. Benson was named the Colorado Economics Teacher of the Year.

  • NHS was awarded the Silver Medal by U.S. News & World Report

  • We had 35 members of our choir named to the SVVSD Honor Choir

  • Chantal King was nominated for a Bobby G award, and Chris Brown won one!

  • Assistant Principal Andrea Smith received the Superintendent’s Award of Excellence

  • Sandeep Kaushik and Jackson Roberts developed a de-stressing website that was shared with the whole school

·      Mr. Christensen was named the Colorado Cross Country Coach of the Year.

·      Our Girls & Boys Cross Country Teams both won the district meet

·      We began a Chinese language program

  • Ben Randall learned an important lesson about business when attempting to sell his “Free Jesse” t-shirts

  • The following teams qualified for State:

    • Girls

      • XC

      • Gymnastics

      • Soccer

      • Swimming

      • Tennis

      • Track & Field

      • Volleyball

    • Boys

      • Basketbll

      • XC

      • Golf

      • Soccer

      • Tennis Track & Field

      • Wrestling

  • Carter Osteen & Becky Klatt were named Homecoming King & Queen

  • Alex Oelsner was selected as a Blue/Grey Football All-American

  • The Drama department put on some fantastic shows this year:  Murder in the House of Horrors, Into the Woods, and She Kills Monsters

  • Mrs. Mudukutore was named Niwot High School’s Educator of the Year.

  • Anya Berlova got her artwork published in the Rocky Mountain SCBWI calendar

  • Jaiden Cruger won the Dawson School’s Debate Duels

  • Mock Trial took 3rd at State in only its 3rd year of existence

  • Many of our choir students participated in a flash mob at a wedding, and the video of that event has more than 20,000 views on Youtube

  • NHS is now up to 43 clubs

  • Hanna Hemstreet & Yannik Lee-Yow being voted Prom Queen & King.  Yannick, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about you bringing your cat to school anymore!

  • Mrs. Youngman was awarded our district’s Encore Award.

  • Many of our choir students travelled to New York to perform with a broadway cast in a revival of Crazy For You, starring Tony Award nominee Tony Yazbeck, Jerry O’Connell, Rachel Dratch, and Jack MacBrayer.  Their performance earned NHS a tweet from celebrity Frankie Grande

  • Artside 2017 was one of the best ever

  • Cody Holliday is with us here today, thank God, after surviving a horrific car crash about a month ago

  • Claire Ryan won NHS’ inaugural Forensics Big Question Tournament

  • Seeing Naomi Bastow place 2nd at State recently in the Special Olympics 100M dash, and given her medal by campus supervisor La’Mar West

  • This year’s senior class was awarded more than $9 million in college scholarships

  • Senior night was awesome

    • Brynn Chavez’s speech & senior slideshow

    • Julie Nelson on the Marimbas

    • Claire Gillett & Jenna McCaffrey on their ukelele & guitar duet

    • Danny Fiamengo’s heartfelt speech and playing & singing the Billy Joel song

  • Being the top-ranked public school in Colorado this year by the Washington Post


This is a lot to be proud of.  Our students & staff have worked incredibly hard and it is good to see their efforts recognized.  However, when we dive below the surface, we realize that many of the most meaningful things that are happening here at NHS don’t receive the recognition that they deserve, or an award.  Consider:

  • The formation & success of the Best Buddies Club, which pairs students with and without disabilities to socialize and deepen friendships

  • The students who will be the first in their families to graduate from high school

  • The students who will be the first in their families to go to college

  • The students who have overcome tremendous personal adversity, be it the death of a friend or parent, a personal illness, or other travail, to finish high school strongly

  • The students who have determined not to let a learning disability stop them from achieving their goals, and the teachers who have helped them along the way

  • The teachers who spend evenings and weekends grading, lesson planning, contacting parents, writing letters of recommendation, strategizing on how to make their lessons meaningful, engaging, and relevant, and planning different ways to have an impact on their students’ lives


Those are the things that truly make NHS special:  us, our Niwot family, caring about one another and encouraging each other to go further than we could have gone alone.


To close, I want to congratulate you seniors on a triumphant conclusion to your childhood, and wish you all the best in the dawn of this next chapter of your life.  Thank you for helping NHS to be a big family, and thank you for striving for excellence in all areas.  Remember, whether young or old, or near or far, you will always be a part of the Niwot Cougar Family.


Seniors, Godspeed, thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your principal, and I pray for the best for each and every one of you.  Thank you.