Central grad a ‘good kid’ now

Axel Urie, head boy for the 2010 class from Central High School, gets a hug from Principal Jody Diers during the Monday morning commencement at Stocker Stadium.

Ivan Guerrero was a self-described “bad kid.”

He didn’t care about school. He didn’t care about grades. He just wanted to act tough and survive life in a crowded high school outside of Los Angeles.

Then, at 16, he moved to Grand Junction and started his junior year at Central High School.

“That’s when I decided to be a good kid,” he said.

Guerrero’s road to graduation from Central wasn’t an easy one. Before earning his diploma Monday with 339 of his fellow classmates, he had to learn English at age 11 when his family moved to the United States from Mexico. He tackled the task in six months.

He survived bad influences in California. When his dad got a job in Colorado, he followed him, along with his mom and two brothers, Luis, 19, and Oswaldo, 17. When his dad lost his job after a year, Guerrero worked to pay the bills until his dad found work again two months ago.

“It was hard with school, soccer and work,” to fit in homework, something that usually had to wait until after 9 p.m., when he returned home from his job at Burger King.

Guerrero has been accepted to Mesa State College and wants to be a translator in the courts system. He went to court to deal with a traffic ticket not long ago and found many Spanish-speaking people who needed a translator.

His dad is going to buy him a car as thanks for all his support in the past year. He doesn’t regret leaving California.

“It was a better city for us to live in,” he said of the move to the Grand Valley.

Central High was the first of District 51’s high schools to have a commencement ceremony this year. Central alumnus Denny Norris, a life coach and author who lives in Arizona, offered the commencement address.

Valedictorian Axel Urie and Principal Jody Diers also spoke at the ceremony. Articles about students lined the chain-link fence running along the entrance to Stocker Stadium, where the ceremony took place, and tables just beyond the entrance displayed photos, awards and science projects related to this year’s graduates.


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