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A Day of Memories for Northfield High’s Class of 2023  

NHS’ fifth and largest class “walks” together for last time.

Hundreds of parents, relatives and friends packed the Colorado Convention Center downtown Sunday afternoon to celebrate Northfield High School’s graduates amid cheers, shout outs, selfies, high-fives and hugs.

At the commencement ceremony at the Bellco Theater most of the *approximately 300 NHS seniors graduating this spring received their diplomas. (*Exact number of  graduates announced once final grades are recorded.) More than 90 of the graduates received International Baccalaureate Diplomas for completing the rigorous program. They were signified by white hoods draped on their gowns, with most of those also adorned with gold stoles and white cords recognizing their achievement as National Honor Society and Cum Laude (academic honors) graduates.

Among the record-setting class of seniors, 89% of the class applied and 85% were accepted to 74 different colleges. Seniors received a total of $16.4 million in merit-based college scholarships.

After an introduction by Principal Amy Bringedahl, the spotlight turned to the graduates, with brief speeches by five students: Elaine Lyons (valedictorian), Quynh MacKenzie (salutatorian), Luis Lomeli, Sabrina Lahlali and Asherah Adler-Eldridge.

Asherah echoed the theme of the day, encouraging her classmates to reflect on graduation as a beginning and not an end:

“Savor this moment. I believe in you. You are going to do whatever you put your minds to!”

Here are profiles of two of the outstanding Northfield graduates.  

Quynh MacKenzie: An aspiring musical drama queen

Quynh (pronounced Quinn) is headed to UCLA in the fall after four busy years at NHS, where she performed in theater, ran cross country and track, helped launch a successful volunteer program to aid needy families – all on her way to earning an IB Diploma and achieving exceptional grades that elevated her to Class of 2023 Salutatorian.

Quynh MacKenzie, NHS Class of 2023 Salutatorian and incoming freshman at UCLA.grades that elevated her to Class of 2023 salutatorian.

“One of my favorite things about Northfield is the immense number of opportunities it provided,” she said, “I was able to be a part of different sports at varsity level, and be in the IB program and be in theater production.”

Theater is her passion, and will be her major at UCLA with an emphasis on musical theater. Quynh was a star in the NHS production of the Broadway (and later Netflix) musical “Prom” and the high school musical “Ranked.”   

A Denver native with two older brothers whose parents are Tom and Trang MacKenzie, Quynh first became interested in theater when she was in elementary school as a way to overcome her shyness and to follow her love of singing.

In fact, the subject of her college essay was how she went from being “super shy” to acting and singing on stage.

“A lot of people were surprised when I went into theater and it became my thing because of how anxious I was when I was young and how it helped me gain confidence,” she said, crediting her NHS theater teacher Hanan Al-Naqueeb as her “No. 1 supporter.”

“I’ve been singing since I was tiny,” she recalled. “I remember when my mom and grandma used to take me to DCPA (Denver Center for the Performing Arts downtown), and one of the first productions I saw was “Wicked,” and that had a big influence on me.”

Quynh also found time for sports as a member of the cross-country team for all four years, on the track team as a junior and senior and on the soccer team as a freshman and sophomore.

Another high school highlight was being part of a student group that launched “A Giving Tree” volunteer program. Starting in her sophomore year during COVID, she and her group collected community donations and worked with teachers and counselors who identified families at Northfield that needed help. They provided gifts for 50 families in the first year. This school year, they expanded the volunteer effort to provide holiday gifts for every family at Ashley Elementary, located at Montview Boulevard and Syracuse Street and where more than 80% of the students come from families that qualify for free or reduced lunch.

And her career goal after college?

“I haven’t completely sorted it out yet. But I love singing, and I would love to do live theater. I’m also excited to study film at UCLA as well.”

 Dalton Ford-McGee: An academic and digital all-star

When Dalton took the stage Sunday to receive his IB Diploma, it was an especially proud moment not just for him but also for his mom Ashika Ford, who raised him as a single parent.

Dalton, a Denver native who lives in Green Valley Ranch, achieved an impressive 4.72 grade point average after all four years at Northfield that qualified him for National Honors Society and Cum Laude recognition.

Dalton Ford-McGee, honors grad of NHS class of 2023 and incoming freshman at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“I was on the Northfield basketball team as a freshman, and I still like to play basketball, but I stopped playing on the team to focus more on academics because I was taking college-level classes and that required more time and effort,” he says.

Dalton heads to CU-Boulder this fall, where he will live on campus, root for the Buffaloes and major in computer science.

“I wanted to stay in Colorado. I like the location because it’s far enough from home but at the same time close to home.”

His favorite subjects at Northfield included business, math and sports exercise. But what has captured his imagination the most is the digital world.

“I like the flexibility and creativity that you can do with computers,” he says.

Back in the eighth grade, he did an internship to develop mobile applications. Those skills helped him join with two other NHS computer science students to create a mobile app for a group of IB Business students whose idea was to sell a clothing line online.

“The app was never launched publicly, but it was still fun and cool to create.”

Dalton, who works as a grocery clerk at Sprouts in Green Valley Ranch, also was an NHS student ambassador to help plan and run events such as school tours for parents and student panel discussions on campus and community issues. And he was a student leader in the Ninth Grade Academy to help incoming freshmen adjust to a new life in high school.

Not surprisingly, Dalton has his career plan firmly established as a software engineer after college graduation:

“The fact that you can code anything and solve almost any problem is really interesting to me. And it is fresh every day and not repetitive. That has value.”

(All photos by Chris Broderick) 

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