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VALEDICTORY ADDRESS

Isalina Colsman '20 and Ryan Tierney '20
EDITOR'S NOTE: In this week's blog entry, the valedictorians of the Class of 2020—Isalina Colsman '20 and Ryan Tierney '20—share their individual reflections on coming to a place of peace with the unexpected end of their high school career.
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THIS END DOESN’T DEFINE OUR JOURNEY
By Isalina Colsman '20

About three weeks ago, as my college decision began to come down to the wire, I realized how much I was hurting. Part of the reason the decision became so difficult for me is that I felt as if I had no closure from my high school experience at Regis Jesuit. Over the past four years, Regis has become a place of pure joy, growth and an enormity of love for me and for all the seniors of the Class of 2020. Leaving that behind was something I was not quite ready to do mid-March, and I was excited to celebrate our class’ time together those last few weeks to become ready. So, when the announcement came that we would not be returning to school, I was devastated. Four years of dancing the night away, laughing hysterically in the hallways, cheering with the greatest of pride during football games or before meets, bonding in an indescribable manner with one’s sisters and brothers on retreat, feeling love and belonging, was now practically finished. And I felt as if I never had a chance to say goodbye.

I am utterly amazed at the strength and resilience of the Regis Jesuit community during quarantine, especially the faculty, staff and seniors. It has shown me God’s ability to bring consolation to moments that are so easily marked as times of desolation. The amount of joy the drive-thru, Microsoft Teams meetings, volunteer opportunities, daily prayers, counselor check-ins and small yet enormously impactful texts have brought me and all members of the community has outshone the darkness. They remind me of my gratitude toward all the experiences and people of Regis who have impacted my life eternally and the things I normally take for granted. I know that next time I hug a friend, I will take the time to truly appreciate the gift of their embrace and of their presence in my life. I know that I am forever thankful for the power and gift of words because they allow me to tell someone how beautiful they are and how much they mean to me. I know that when all of the RJ community can come fully together again, I will rejoice in the sisterhood and brotherhood of the community.

As the infamous Tony Stark of Marvel’s Avengers once stated, “Part of the journey is the end.” Though I have struggled to embrace this concept, what has given me more comfort is the fact that the journey is not just comprised of the end once it is over. It is made up of all those moments, good and bad, that made it so monumental. It is made up of the memories that will last us a lifetime and more, and it is made up of how we continue to be what we have learned to be from the journey itself long after it has ended. My time in the physics classroom has led me to pursue a path in medicinal physics. Being part of the cross country, track and swim teams has helped me decide to run in college. Kairos has allowed me to see that I am loved exactly for who I am, taught me how to love others and God more fully and convinced me that I am a leader. My teachers and peers in grades above or below me have shown me that meaningful relationships can look so different than I once imagined. This quarantine has proved to all of us our ability to lift each other out of the dark. The journey we have been on these past four years may be coming to a close, but the unexpected manner in which it does will not define what we take away from it.


Over the past four years, Isalina has been part of Regis Jesuit’s Cross Country, Swim & Dive and Track & Field teams, as well as a member of the Fiat and Cadre Clubs. She will be attending the University of Notre Dame next fall where she plans to study physics into medicine.

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THE FINAL LESSON
Ryan Tierney ’20

On Thursday, March 12 at 2:45 pm, Regis Jesuit’s bell rang. Like any other day, it dismissed students and signaled the end of classes. But, on that particular day, things were different. Coronavirus took the United States by storm, the NBA suspended its season, CHSAA suspended all sports and activities and multiple school districts across the Denver metro area declared cancelations. During my AP Macroeconomics class, Mr. Tricco emailed the school and announced that we would not be returning that Friday. As the clock ticked down during the second half of class, everyone stood, watching the news from their iPads or phones. No one in that class, or throughout the school, was paying attention to their “final lesson.” The moment was surreal.

In hindsight, I suppose that last bell signaled a lot more than the end of the day. It signaled the end of four years for the senior class, the end of walks down the hall with friends, the end of sports and activities, the jeopardization of a normal conclusion to the senior experience. The final lesson, which marked the end of our time in high school, passed by without fanfare. For me, it was demoralizing, as it signified the abrupt conclusion to morning swim practices, Saturday team breakfasts and all the other parts of my final high school swim season. We at RJ are not alone. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of high school and college students have had the “pomp and circumstance” of their senior year robbed by COVID-19.

For four years, the Class of 2020 and I have grown immensely under the care and teaching of Regis Jesuit. Like at other high schools, we have grown in intellect. But a Raider education is rooted in care for the whole person, so we have also developed in our faith, in our commitment to the wellbeing of others and in our capacity to love. The “victory lap” for seniors—with prom, the senior book drop, yearbook signing and graduation—is a way for us to present that growth to the world. With this taken away, it can be easy to fall into despair and lamentation. It can be easy, on some level, to resent the scientists telling us that it is not safe to convene in public. It can be easy to grow irritated at public officials ordering us to stay home and away from school. It can even be easy to minimize the incredible risk that the virus poses to the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions and the general populace. Sadly, many high schools and students have fallen into this trap in recent days, especially with the gradual reduction of lockdown protocols across the country.

But what makes Regis special, and what, I believe, has allowed our school to avoid this trap, is that, at its core, the school imparts one value: self-sacrificial love. This love is demonstrated most in the dedication and care of the Regis Jesuit teachers, many of whom over four years have earned my utmost respect. However, in addition to them, the retreat program, Service Projects, theology curriculum and general world philosophy that guides all RJ activities is rooted in the idea that “if our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed” (Roosevelt), that “if they hunger, we hunger” (Roosevelt) and that if Jesus Christ could give his life on the cross for us, we can extend that love to our fellow humans.

It is this love to which we are all called. Of course, it can manifest itself in countless ways, from making yourself vulnerable to a loving spouse to serving the poor. No matter what form it takes, this love must be given wholeheartedly. Right now, more than 80,000 people have died across the United States in the past three months from coronavirus. While much of this may be out of our control, through the sacrifice of our “senior sunset” (which pales in comparison to the immense self-sacrifice of the healthcare workers in this country), we have been empowered to show love for our fellow humans and to prevent future casualties, even though we may never be aware of their existence.

So, while I wish that we could have had a normal end to this school year, one rich with celebration and closure, Regis Jesuit has prepared my classmates and me to be able to let that all go and be happy.

This was our final lesson.


Ryan has been involved in numerous clubs and activities during his time at Regis Jesuit, including the Boys Swim & Dive Team, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Sports Analytics Club, RJ Media, Advanced Jazz Ensemble, the Rowdies and Cannonball Club. Next year, he will be attending Harvard University, where he will be swimming on the Men’s Swim and Dive Team and pursuing a career in the United States Navy through the Naval ROTC program.
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