Parachute’s Grand Valley grads overcome challenges aplenty
PARACHUTE — Two students made Grand Valley High School history Saturday, crossing the stage twice as they were recognized for not only graduating from high school, but also receiving college degrees.
For another, walking across that stage just once, to pick up his diploma, was accomplishment enough, after an accident last fall that left him lucky to survive, much less walk on two legs again.
Grand Valley High School’s Class of 2013 is full of stories of students exceeding expectations and overcoming adversity.
“Set your goals high, because obviously we are capable of reaching them,” Kelsi Hayden, who graduated third in her class, advised her 62 fellow graduates during Saturday’s ceremony.
Hayden is proof of that.
She and Desarae McGee became the first from the school to receive associate degrees from Colorado Mountain College even as they were still taking high school classes.
“I knew my parents didn’t have the money to support me in college, but they wanted me to go,” Hayden explained later.
Through the program with Colorado Mountain College, the district paid for some of the college credits she received, but she took some more, while also working a full-time restaurant job.
Now she plans to go to Oklahoma State University to study criminal sociology.
School academic adviser Chris Abbey said under the partnership with CMC, students can take dual-credit courses and pursue associate degrees.
“They’re going to school at night; they’re doing online classes,” she said.
Abbey also marveled Saturday at the accomplishment of Jacob White, who nearly lost his life, or at least his leg, when his left thigh was impaled by a piece of iron in an accident in auto shop class last October.
“It’s amazing he was even able to walk across to get his diploma,” she said.
Besides recovering enough to play on the school baseball team this spring, White had to overcome the academic setback of missing much of his first-semester classes this school year.
For a time, “I wasn’t in any state of mind for doing (school) work, I was in so much pain,” he said.
He said his class “has gone through a lot, I would say.”
Salutatorian Paul Gonzalez-Dominguez downplayed the challenge it posed for him, but Abbey said he overcame a late start in learning English to become an outstanding, driven student.
Valedictorian Cody Pfau also rose to a challenge this year in newsmaking style when she became the first female to win a first-round match at the state wrestling tournament.