More than 400 seniors from five high schools in La Plata County will graduate in the Class of 2016 and head across the nation and world for the next chapter of their lives.
While many are sticking around to attend Fort Lewis College, Southwest Colorado Community College, San Juan College in Farmington or start a job, others are headed to some of the most competitive schools in the country. Joining a growing trend across the country, more than 40 students will take a year between high school and college to explore passions, volunteer and travel.
“Most of you are taller, and all of you are wiser, more mature, more aware of who you are and what’s important to you,” Animas High School Head of School Sean Woytek said in a letter to his school’s graduating class. “ ... you will be on your own in a way you haven’t been before. No longer will an adviser or teacher step in when things get tough.”
The largest high school in La Plata County will graduate 222 students on Friday. Because of restructuring in the counseling office, the total amount of scholarships DHS students have received is not available, said Julie Popp, District 9-R spokeswoman, but it’s well over $1 million. Scholarships range from $500 to full rides of $120,000. Among the colleges the newly minted DHS alumni will attend are Pepperdine, Baylor, New York and Vanderbilt universities and virtually every institution of higher learning in Colorado. Students also are enlisting in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, studying the culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University, cosmetology at the Paul Mitchell Institute and heading directly to jobs.
Nick Wilbur, the son of Sue Kraus and Chris Wilbur, has been a standout violist at the school.
“Nick will be attending the Eastman School of Music following his third summer fellowship with the National Symphony Summer Music Institute at the Kennedy Center in (Washington) D.C.,” his mother said.
The free public charter school will bid adieu to 68 graduates Friday. Among their destinations are the Parsons School of Design, the London School of Economics, the Berklee College of Music, Bryn Mawr College, Columbia University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona.
“We have a National Merit Scholar,” college counselor Jessica Adams said. “Olivia Sakadinsky has been awarded $10,000 for four years – $40,000 – to attend college. She will be heading to the University of Vermont this fall.”
Sakadinsky, the daughter of Eric and Kim (Guiet) Sakadinsky, was the only National Merit finalist in the county,
Earlier in May, Adams said AHS graduates had received more than $1.3 million in scholarships, but she expected that number to increase.
Lyle Bryson, who has served as AHS Student Council president and co-editor-in-chief of the Animas Quill, is headed to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
“I learned that together we can accomplish so much more than on our own,” said Bryson, the son of Phil and Lucy Bryson. “I despised collaboration and the idea of working with others when I started at Animas, but it has really broadened my perspective.”
Bryson, who called himself an introvert by nature, plans to combine business and design for his major.
The smallest of the high schools in La Plata County, Big Picture will graduate 10 or 11 students on June 2, counselor and internship coordinator Jenny Roper said.
Headed to FLC, Southwest Colorado Community College and the Navy, they have received about $18,000 in scholarships, including several from the FLC Foundation and High Noon Rotary Club.
Bayfield High School held its graduation May 15, sending 63 graduates into the world.
One is headed to Belgium for university, others are spreading out to Montana, Texas, California, Idaho and Montana.
Valedictorian Frankie Turner is the only student in the county who received an appointment to a service academy. The son of Kip and Lisa Turner, he is heading to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
BHS’ students received almost $1.1 million in scholarships.
Other students are enlisting in the Army and Navy or heading directly into the workforce.
The school will send 45 graduates into the world on Saturday. The recipients of about $106,000 plus three full-ride scholarships, they are headed to colleges around Colorado and the Four Corners as well as the Marines, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute and, for one adventurous student, La Salle University in Madrid. The rest are headed into the workforce, said Jessica Powell, who tracked information.
“The teachers build really good relationships with students here,” said graduating senior Wyatt Hayes, the son of Jim and Cindy Hayes. “It’s such a small school, you build good social skills, because you meet and talk to lots of kinds of people.”
One of 13 IHS students headed to FLC, Hayes will play basketball while he explores possible majors in geology, chemistry or engineering.
Graduates range from 16 to older, nontraditional students, and 17 people earned a high-school equivalency degree from the Durango Adult Education Center on Wednesday night.
“We have a partnership in recovering students,” said Durango District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger, who is joining the center’s board. “We want to be sure every student has the opportunity to study.”
The diplomas will allow the students to pursue college educations and certifications.
Durango High School’s graduation will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Durango High School Stadium. If the ceremony has to move into the school’s gymnasium because of weather, admission will be limited to the recipients of the six tickets each graduate was allocated.
Animas High School will hold its graduation at 4 p.m. Friday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
Ignacio High School graduation will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the gymnasium.
Big Picture High School graduation will take place at 5:30 p.m. June 2 at Rotary Park.
Bayfield High School held its graduation May 15.
The Durango Adult Education Center held graduation for GED diploma recipients on Wednesday.