Mesa Valley graduates come from small school but have big dreams

Graduate Rebekah Nadel sings the national anthem during the Mesa Valley Community School graduation celebration Wednesday afternoon in the Grand Ballroom at Colorado Mesa University.

For the 17 students who received their diplomas from Mesa Valley Community School on Wednesday, the path to graduation was unique and filled with lessons far beyond the classroom.

The small K-12 charter school allows students and families to customize their education, whether that’s changing the pace, taking college classes or attending school independently. The school is a mix of public and home school, with an emphasis on a parent or guardian participating in the student’s education.

Administrative Director Laurajean Downs told students she was inspired by a common theme among their plans for the future.

“All of you have a common desire to see the world become a better place,” she said.

Mesa Valley graduate Bowen Frederick is serving in the U.S. Navy as a gunner’s mate and wants to work in law enforcement. Joy Quinn wants to pursue an advanced degree in psychology. Katie Stobbe plans to earn a paramedic license.

What unites their plans, Downs said, was strong character and integrity.

“No matter what career path you pursue, those character traits you have developed will serve you well,” she said.

The commencement ceremony at a Colorado Mesa University ballroom mirrored the school’s emphasis on each student’s strengths and passions.

Art, photography and scrapbooks by graduates lined a back wall, and attendees clapped and laughed as childhood photos for every student were projected onto large screens.

Commencement speaker Jeff Wells, a coach and behavior specialist in District 51, told graduates to seek both their dreams and to be better people.

“Don’t let anyone take away your dreams. You need to have big dreams and to chase them,” Wells said. “Those dreams don’t become reality without integrity… (and) whether you’ve had a good life up until this point or not, you can start living to make a difference.”


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