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Tristen Zitek, left, joins Bauner Borgman in applauding comments from their principal, Todd Sweeter, during Pine Bluffs Junior/Senior High’s commencement ceremony for the Class of 2019 on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Gary Gwin/For the Wyoming Tribune Eagle

PINE BLUFFS – Pine Bluffs Junior/Senior High won’t be the same next year. That’s because Bauner Borgman graduated Sunday. Bauner was a bright light at the school, and a friend to both the students and the staff.

His mom, Tabitha Borgman, said, “They know when he’s gone because the halls are quiet. When he’s there, there’s someone laughing and giggling about something with him.”

She said many people at the school have told her how much they’ll miss him because he always brightens their days.

Though he was born with cerebral palsy, Bauner never let that fact hold him back.

This school year, Bauner took a variety of classes, including Algebra, agriculture, Spanish, English and weights.

Bauner said math is his favorite part of school. “It keeps me working hard,” he explained.

He even won an award for how well he can use a calculator. Bauner also won an award for use of vocabulary in Spanish.

But his awards don’t stop there. Bauner won a leadership award for his role in the Pine Bluffs FFA chapter and earned a state degree from FFA.

Brian Anderson, a coach at Pine Bluffs Junior/Senior High, also awarded Bauner a trophy for “Fastest Man on Four Wheels: Pine Bluffs High School 2016-2019 Race Series Champion.”

Tabitha Borgman said Anderson would race Bauner down the hallways, with Bauner in his wheelchair and Anderson on an exercise ball. According to the trophy, Bauner won 47 times, compared to Anderson’s 46.

Bauner also has two state football rings for his years managing the Pine Bluffs Hornets football team. And he has multiple gold medals from participating in the Special Olympics.

Bauner also enjoyed his cooking class this year.  

“We got a lot of food cooked,” he said.

And his team won the cake wars in the class by baking a teddy bear cake.

Tabitha Borgman said the community at Pine Bluffs Junior/Senior High has always pulled out all the stops to ensure Bauner is included in any activity he wants. In fact, some of the staff members built a special ramp the students used for commencement specifically so Bauner could cross the stage just like his fellow graduates.

Outside of school, Bauner is part of the Special Youth Challenge program, through which he goes on hunting trips.

Bauner’s dad, Dan Borgman, explained that the organization set up a system with the rifle that allows Bauner to pull a trigger along with his guide to shoot deer and turkeys, depending on which he is hunting. Bauner has trophies from both.

“Just like any hunter, he gets that adrenaline going. He just loves it,” Tabitha Borgman said.

While Bauner loves his activities outside of school, he’s going to miss the Pine Bluffs Junior/Senior High community as much as they will miss him.

Tabitha Borgman said Bauner broke down one day at school when it really hit him that he would be leaving the school and wouldn’t see all his friends every day.

But Bauner’s younger sister, Alli, participates in many school activities, so Tabitha said Bauner will still get to see his friends sometimes.

Despite his sadness at leaving his friends, Bauner said he was excited to graduate. Tabitha Borgman said he’d been counting down the days for two months.

Now that he’s out of high school, Bauner plans to work with a job coach to get a job. During the year, Bauner worked a few hours a week at the Texas Trail Market.

He said he’d really like to be a tractor salesman at John Deere and hopes someday to buy a John Deere zero-turn lawnmower so he can help his dad mow the lawn at home.

Kristine Galloway, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s former education reporter, wrote this story for the WTE as a freelance writer.

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