349 Tiger grads weather storm, start next phase
Grand Junction High School seniors embarked Tuesday on the next phase of their lives with a dose of optimism and a nod to the sadness they encountered in their final year.
“Sometimes the most difficult paths lead to the most beautiful destinations,” Valedictorian Mira Mercier told her classmates. “I still fundamentally believe that there will be light coming out of this darkness.”
Mercier graduated with a 4.46 grade-point average and she took 13 advanced placement classes.
Principal Ari Goldberg acknowledged that it had been “an extremely tough year” — a spate of teen suicides included Grand Junction High School students — and praised the 349 members of the Class of 2017 for its resilience, willingness to speak up, passion and ability to support one another.
For one of the class, Carlos Murillo, graduation means he will move on in August to the University of Notre Dame, where he has a full-ride scholarship waiting for him to begin his studies in mechanical engineering.
“I’ve broken things just to fix them,” Murillo said, adding with a laugh, “Sometimes it works out.”
His brother, Jose, and Jose’s family and friends watched Carlos graduate, but his parents were in Mexico. He has lived with Jose during his high school years and earned a 4.15 grade-point average. He also was accepted at the University of Southern California.
Though they couldn’t attend the commencement ceremony, his parents’ insistence on education paid off as he will be the first member of his family to attend college, Murillo said.
“What pushes me at school is that feeling of achievement,” he said.
Josh Foutz, with at least a 4.2 GPA, earned a perfect ACT score and he was a member of the school’s state championship GJHS Academic Team.
After a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Foutz said he planned to attend Brigham Young University to study trumpet performance.
“I’d like to play with a major symphony and my pipe dream is to play for movie trailers,” Foutz said.