Since its inception 10 years ago, Glacier High School has tried to forge its own unique identity, including an uncommon tradition during its graduation ceremony. Instead of adults leading the assembly, it’s students who are front and center, speaking, performing and conducting the entire event.
Glacier’s time-honored tradition is now gaining national accolades.
The Kalispell high school has won the “Most Memorable Graduation” in the nation award as part of Varsity Brands’ 2017 School Spirit Awards. The award was announced May 15 at a ceremony at Walt Disney World in Florida. With the victory, Glacier High School will receive $10,000.
“The recognition validates the hard work that literally hundreds of students have done at Glacier High School since we opened 10 years ago,” Principal Callie Langohr said.
“And it validates the hard work that the students have put into their academics and the success we’ve had in our activity programs. My hat’s off to the students for a job well done over the years.”
In February, administrators submitted a graduation portfolio to the Varsity Brands’ contest, which selects an array of awards every year, including “Best School Tradition,” “Best Booster Club,” and “Most Spirited Yearbook.”
Glacier’s portfolio includes video clips and pictures of past graduation ceremonies that featured the unique tradition of the school’s student-led convocation.
“When Glacier opened, we had a mindset that we wanted to be different. We were very mindful of some things we were going to do to focus on students,” Langohr said. “At our ceremony, we showcase their talents, and it doesn’t get any better than that when you can showcase student talent.”
In March, Glacier staff members were notified that the high school was among four finalists for the top graduation ceremony honor. The company running the contest encouraged each finalist school to send a staff member to the ceremony in Florida, but Langohr said it would have cost roughly $1,500 and the staff decided it was not an appropriate use of school funds.
Instead, Langohr waited with anxious anticipation while attending a theater production at the high school last night. During intermission, she stepped out and borrowed a teacher’s cell phone to peek at the Internet stream of the awards ceremony. That’s when she saw something surprising: the Glacier High School logo displayed as the winner.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had to watch it three times to make sure,” she said. “It was pretty exciting.”