Ready to make their mark

At the end of her speech to the graduating class of 2013 from R-5 High School, Ashley Moore launches into an impromptu a capella version of Beyonce’s “I Was Here” after the recorded music started skipping.

It was her voice, her singing, but the CD was stuttering, made worse in the reverberations around an otherwise silent Brownson Arena Friday morning.

Finally, Ashley Moore turned and asked for the CD to be stopped.

“I wasn’t planning on doing this live,” she told the crowd of hundreds gathered for R-5 High School’s graduation.

Pulling the microphone from its holder on the podium, clutching it in her right hand, she began a capella: “I want to leave my footprints on the sands of time, know there was something that I left behind.”

Beyonce’s “I Was Here,” interpreted in Ashley’s silky, sweet voice, swirled through the arena, higher and higher, to the rafters and beyond. It represented her and her 53 classmates, R-5’s 43rd graduating class, and the twisting roads they’d traveled to reach that position of accomplishment Friday.

In addressing her classmates, Ashley, 18, acknowledged, “Success is a choice, and I’ve made some poor choices.

“I’m an alcoholic. I was drunk most of the time, and anger was one of my biggest downfalls.”

“A lot of kids in her position, they’re angry,” said her father, Rob Moore. “Theirs is a generation full of abject anger for so many reasons, in so many ways, and a lot of these kids are not at-risk kids, they’re cliff-jumpers. She’s a very brave girl.”

Family friend Debra Feeley described Ashley as “a great kid who’s had to learn some hard lessons. Ever since she was young, ever since her mother’s untimely death (11 years ago), she’s survived a lot.”

Her choices came with consequences, though, and she served eight months at the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center.

While there, and in working with counselors, she learned that “anger is a secondary emotion, it’s a mask,” she explained. She worked on getting at the heart of her anger, of her sadness, and redirecting the course of her life.

Her thoughts turned to school. She didn’t know if she’d be able to graduate on time, but after earning 10.5 credits in her eight months at the youth center, she moved on to R-5 and powered through, all the way to being one of six students chosen to address the 2013 graduating class.

“Some of us have faced things no one should have to face alone,” said Kate Beagle, another of the students chosen to speak at graduation. “Later, this stage will be walked by mothers and fathers, children from broken homes, children with no homes.”

The graduates included Casey Martin, who came to R-5 after two years out of school following a drop out. They included Caitlyn Decker, who earned 13 credits this school year and then gave birth to her baby; and Connie Reust, who earned a $44,500 scholarship for being a distinguished math scholar; and Jacob Martin, who entered Valley School two years ago as a 19-year-old with zero credits.

They included Ashley Moore, who can look back and see a path strewn with broken glass, but who looks forward with big dreams: “I’m more confident in myself now that I’m succeeding,” she said. Her future includes plans attending Colorado Mesa University.

And so she clutched the microphone and sang, gaining confidence, her voice rising higher until its strength filled the arena and every ear of her rapt audience.

“I want to say I lived each day, until I die, and know that I meant something in somebody’s life. The hearts I have touched will be the proof that I leave that I made a difference, and this world will see I was here.”


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