Some R-5 grads didn’t think the day would ever come

Award Winning R-5 Graduate Phillip Shroder is photographed with his grandmother Helen Fuller at the commencement ceremony at Brownson Arenea at Mesa State College.

Outside of Brownson Arena, on the campus of Mesa State College, some car windows were decorated with pink, white and yellow script.

“Psycho ‘B’ you did it!” was written in pink and yellow on the back window of a Ford sport utility vehicle. “I love you dessy” in white lettering covered a Kia, and “Class of 2009 (heart)” in pink adorned the windows of a Lexus.

Inside the arena, it was the photographs, not the letters, that stood out. An elderly Marty Arnold, dressed in a circular brimmed, pink summer hat, brought the collection of snapshots with her. Bound in blue wrapping paper, the photo album rested under her chair, waiting for her graduate, as she sat patiently in a rear-aisle seat, watching the R-5 High School graduating class of 2009.

“She was my junior Partner 10 years ago, and we lost touch with each other,” Arnold said.

“Recently she contacted me and told me she would be graduating.”

The album was a collection of pictures of her and 9-year-old Sheri Smith. Arnold said she wasn’t sure if Smith would ever complete high school, but today she was sure.

“I’m so proud that she did,” Arnold said.

Sherry Price was proud of her graduate as well. Her daughter, Sarah, is 18 years old and has a baby. In October, she dropped out of traditional high school and found an alternative that worked for her.

“I think she needed an opportunity to be in an environment this small,” Price said of her daughter. “She is going to be a medical assistant and a mom.”

Dee Webb said her daughter, Kileen Morrison, 20, lost her way. She dropped out of school, went to work and found comfort with friends, Webb said of her daughter. Then something clicked.

“I think it was the realization that she better get a degree or a GED,” Webb said.

It was her peers and her friends that swayed Morrison to return to high school and complete the 12th grade.

“I think her story is inspirational,” Webb said. “We love this school.”

Every student has his or her own story, and each has overcome adversity to receive a diploma Friday, R-5 Principal Dave Casey said.

“These graduates have shown grit and determination to be where they are today,” Casey said.

Randy Dickeson, wearing a blue shirt to match R-5’s colors, nodded knowingly in response to Casey.

“This is really a moment that will live with us for the rest of our lives,” he said. “And no, quite honestly, I did not think this day would ever come.”

Plenty of former graduates were in the audience as well. Some had their young children with them. Others came with a pack of friends, anxious to start the “after-graduation party.”

“I’m watching my best friend,” Palisade High School junior Jesse Brannon said. “I didn’t think he was going to graduate. He didn’t really like school.”

His friend did graduate and, as with all the rest of the R-5 graduates, is now turning the pages on a new chapter in life.

“When you close one chapter, you have to move on to the next in order to finish,” said Phillip Shroder, comparing life to a good book.

Shroder was one of the graduates who was given the honor to speak before the class of ’09 during graduation. He closed with a self-authored poem, appropriately titled “Eyes Opening Wide.”


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