Basalt High School Class of 2019 motto: “You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss
On June 1, Basalt High School seniors will don caps and gowns to celebrate with friends, family and teachers as they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Graduation for the BHS Class of 2019 is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on the football field, weather permitting.
This year, two valedictorians, best friends Megan Maley and Steven Garcia-Machuca, will address their class, sharing a title they have worked toward together since freshman year.
“It was an inside joke that we’ve had,” Garcia-Machuca said. “We’ve always been the two students up there who everyone thought might get [valedictorian], but we’re also best friends so we thought, ‘How cool would it be if we got it together?’”
Maley said, “I think it’s been a goal of ours to be valedictorians together for a really long time. I felt relieved and really happy when I figured out we got it together. I’m not good at public speaking so it should be interesting. They usually have two separate speeches, but we’re going to do a bit of both — separate and together.”
Maley plans to attend Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., a liberal arts school which will allow her to pursue a STEM major while taking writing and literature courses.
Garcia-Machuca has been admitted to Harvard University — a rare and exciting occurrence for Basalt High School — and plans to major in global health. He said learning about his admission was unreal.
“I got in 20 days earlier than regular admission,” Garcia-Machuca said. “They called me and sent me an email on a random day (“Because they wanted him that bad!” Maley interjects) and I applied everywhere. I applied to Stanford and all that. It was just ‘Go Big or Go Home.’ I figured I probably wouldn’t get in, but then I did! I still cannot believe it. I ran around the office just screaming. Liz [the BHS college counselor] has a gong…”
Maley laughed and said, “He just kept hitting it and jumping up and down screaming.”
Garcia-Machuca finished his sentence, with a smile: “My mom was in shock. She still is. She’s not going to be able to drop me off in the fall, but I’ve had friends who say they know people in Boston who will be able to help me if I need it.
“It’s really cool how our community goes beyond Basalt and I’ll still have that with me when I go.”
For both students, graduating from Basalt and from high school in general, means a great deal.
“I think, for myself, not a lot of people in my family have graduated from high school,” Garcia-Machuca said. “I see it as breaking a cycle and knowing how important it is to get an education. I’m glad to make my family proud.”
Said Maley, “For me, I’ve grown up here my whole life and so has Steven. It’s gratifying to graduate with everyone I’ve known for so long and care about. It’s cool that we did it together.”
Sample the smorgasbord
Maley and Garcia-Machuca have been active throughout their four years at BHS. Both students participated in Key Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance; Garcia-Machuca was president of both clubs.
The co-valedictorians also took part in the Environmental Club (Maley was its president) as well as the National Honor Society and Buddy Program. Both students also ran cross country, which they noted as the source of some of their best memories in high school.
“It’s nice to have a team and make friendships,” Maley said. “I’m really grateful for all my coaches (especially) Ron and Amy Lund, they’ve been the backbone of everything.”
It’s because of her cross country experience that Maley advises underclassmen and incoming freshmen to try whatever they can while in high school.
“I know you’re so nervous, but try everything your freshman year,” she said. “I did ballet up until freshman year until I tried running and now I’m actually running for my college. It’s a great time to explore so don’t be afraid.”
Garcia-Machuca agrees.“Just enjoy it. Enjoy it as much as possible. Don’t get caught up on the things that don’t matter. A lot of us lose track of time and you feel like it went by really fast because you weren’t living in the moment. We’re all looking so far ahead, we forget to be here.”
Maley adds, “It goes by really fast so remember the bigger picture. Don’t stress out too much,” but, she laughed, “do your homework.”
Overall, the co-valedictorians have so much they are thankful for and have so much to look forward to in the upcoming years, knowing they have had a supportive community behind them that they can come home to any time.
“For both us, I know we’re really grateful to have grown up here and to have the opportunities we’ve had living here,” Garcia-Machuca said. “Thank you to my teachers and my family — thank you so much to my family.”
Maley agreed. “Seriously, I’m so thankful for my family. My parents are so supportive, they’re just the best.
“I think, also, the high school has gone through so much lately, especially in the last year alone. I just admire everyone — the teachers and students who have stepped up — to show us what compassion is. It was hard, but we did it and it keeps going.
“We’re both so grateful to have grown up in Basalt and it’s gratifying to graduate from school here. It’s been bittersweet, but with graduation on Saturday — definitely more sweet.”
As a reminder, on Saturday night after graduation, new graduates can attend Project Graduation, a celebration at the school to prevent vehicular drinking and driving accidents.
With the recent passing of Tyler Ribich, the Ribich Family has created the Tyler Ribich Ray of Light Fund to support arts education and youth outreach in the valley and beyond. Donations are being taken at any Wells Fargo bank.
The RFWJ would like to extend its congratulations to the BHS class of 2019 and remind all new grads to stay safe.