For Grand Junction High School Valedictorian Makayla Moran, perseverance is what she will remember most from this season of life.
Persevering through track practice and advanced placement classes, sure. But also through years of learning in a building that is falling apart.
At the Grand Junction High School commencement ceremony Tuesday morning, Moran told her 281 fellow graduates that while attending an outdated school and underfunded school district at times felt frustrating, it gave them an edge.
"It may seem as if others have the advantage for the future, but we have something they don't — perseverance. We have experienced fighting for what we believe in and working hard for what we earn," Moran said. "Our disadvantages have created unexpected skills that others do not have. We have the opportunity to be the David to the Goliath of others."
Moran also served as editor of the Orange and Black student newspaper, which published an award-winning edition on the school's state of disrepair.
"As we move on in our lives and encounter greater opportunities, remember Grand Junction High School not as a place defining you, but as a place that taught you how to be strong and keep fighting when others give up," Moran said.
That message rang true for graduating senior Kada Gackle, who moved to Grand Junction from Canada in November.
Gackle said she struggled to find friends among students that had known each other for years and to adjust to a new school system.
"It's been really hard moving in the middle of senior year, especially leaving all my friends I've known since elementary school," she said."But I've gotten to meet a lot of new people and I've been forced out of my shell and out of my comfort zone. I'm definitely happy I moved here."