Rifle graduates rife with inspiring stories

RIFLE — Graduation speaker Kimberly Mayer offered both an assessment and a prediction in talking about the Rifle High School class of 2010 on Sunday.

“There are so many inspiring stories in this class. There will be so many more,” Mayer said.

Valedictorian Caleb Ziegler and salutatorian Katie Greenman were among 126 Rifle graduates.

Mayer, a Rifle teacher who described overcoming a difficult childhood herself, said some of this year’s class dealt with challenges such as living on their own. One graduate even lived in a car for a while.

Quincey Snyder coped with a junior-year spinal cord injury that left her unable to write her own name as the year started.

“Last week, she wrote me an essay in her own handwriting using both hands,” Mayer said.

With the helping hands of others, Snyder made her way across the stage to receive a hard-earned diploma Sunday. For some others as well, graduating required a similar blend of steely resolve and the support of others.

“My parents really talked some sense into me, and Mr. Hogan also was a big influence,” Angel Olivas said in an interview.

In a letter of reference for Olivas, guidance counselor Drew Hogan tells how the student moved to the United States from Mexico at age 6, didn’t take high school seriously at first and earned only four credits his freshman year.

Olivas figured he could make good money in construction, but he later decided to bear down in school. The eventual slowdown in the construction industry showed he had made the right choice.

“I thought getting an education would be useless, but then I realized it’s the best thing that you can have,” said Olivas.

He had to spend time outside his regular class schedule to get back on track and graduate on time, but his efforts were rewarded when he received the most improved senior award.

Kimberly Nguyen also dug herself a hole during her freshman year in California, where she said she flunked classes and would get in fights.

Nguyen moved to Rifle, where her mom lives. There, she said, “I kind of changed my attitude about school.” She said she also benefited from the increased attention she received attending a smaller school.

Now she hopes to become a math teacher, perhaps eventually a lawyer — in what is one more inspirational story from the Rifle Class of 2010.


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