Palisade grads guided by excellence

Salutatorian John Moir was one of the student speakers, along with Valedictorian Bryce Atchinson, at Palisade High School’s graduation on Monday at Stocker Stadium. The high school graduated 228 seniors at the commencement ceremony. See photo gallery at

Johnny Moir doesn’t have his life planned out or even an answer to that standard “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

What the 2016 Palisade High School graduate does know is he’ll attend the University of Colorado in the fall on a multitude of scholarships where “at this moment” he’s interested in biochemistry with an eye on medical school, although “it’s tough to say what I will end up doing.”

Moir was one of 228 graduates from Palisade High School at Monday night’s commencement ceremonies at Stocker Stadium. As salutatorian, he gave a speech telling classmates, “Be willing to compromise but don’t be willing to change your individuality. Oftentimes, we are too worried about others’ perceptions. So what if we are perceived as outlandish? So what if our interests are strange? So what if we don’t fit the norm? Our uniqueness is beautiful.”

Of course, this was right after Palisade High School Principal Daniel Bollinger introduced Moir as an avid bird-watcher, self-taught accordion player and accomplished sculptor of wood. With a GPA of 4.527 — Bollinger announced 37 graduates had GPAs of 4.0 or better, the most ever for the school — Moir was always a bit different from others at Palisade.

For the past four years, Moir has commuted one hour round-trip every school day from his home in Fruita to attend Palisade with an eye on receiving the prestigious International Baccalaureate diploma. Palisade is the lone high school in the district that offers the program.

Moir took IB courses in arts, math, history, English, science and world language. During the past few weeks, Moir, and the other IB students at Palisade, also took one dozen tests in the hopes of receiving scores high enough to get the diploma.

Moir still has another to take Wednesday.

On top of all that, Moir qualified for this weekend’s Colorado State Track and Field Championships in Denver, where he will run the 800 meters and will be part of Palisade’s 3,200-meter relay team.

“I was always drawn to Palisade,” Moir said. “When I was in eighth grade, those students, teachers and parents spoke highly of the IB program. It really was the only decision to make.”

The hard work paid off. Moir is heading to CU, having received the President Joseph A. Sewall Award, a $5,000 renewable scholarship, a $1,000 Regent Scholarship and acceptance into the Presidents Leadership Class, which comes with a $1,000 scholarship that can escalate as he progresses.

Alexis Schuck, an early graduate, is moving to New York City to attend Hofstra University and study criminology and psychology with an eye on a career in the FBI or as a criminal defense attorney, she said. Ashlyn Brown said she turned down athletic scholarships to attend Colorado Mesa University to study nursing.


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