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Red Canyon High School honors its 2022 graduates

Ceremony honors determination and growth

Graduates celebrate during the Red Canyon World Academy Class of 2022 commencement Friday at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott.
Madison Rahhal/For the Vail Daily

WOLCOTT — Every graduation ceremony is a time for cheers, joy, hugs and, in many cases, relief. Red Canyon High School has all that, with all those emotions turned up a notch or two.

The Red Canyon High School Class of 2022, along with the graduates of World Academy, brought all that joy to a bright, warm morning Friday at 4 Eagle Ranch. The celebration was huge for a group of just 64 graduates. All the available chairs were quickly occupied, with dozens left to stand, or sit on the sagebrush-covered hillside or antique farm equipment.

For those who don’t know, Red Canyon and the World Academy are set up for students who don’t really fit into a standard school. The reasons are as varied as the students themselves.



In her speech about alternative education, graduate Ari Swartz noted that in a world often tied to expectations, students at Red Canyon are “worth what you really are, not what everyone else wants you to be.”

The school itself “doesn’t look like a school should, it doesn’t perform like a school should,” Swartz said.



Ari Swartz speaks at the Red Canyon World Academy Class of 2022 commencement Friday at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott.
Madison Rahhal/For the Vail Daily

Honoring the family

And that school over the years has created a family from all the different people who have attended and taught there.

Alumni Wilber and Natalie Mendez were on hand to present the first Encourage YOU Scholarship.

Wilber Mendez noted that he, Natalie and other alumni have come together to fund the scholarship, which is only for Red Canyon graduates.

The school made its investment into students, Wilber said. The Encourage YOU founders wanted to return at least some of that investment.

Natalie said it was difficult to choose a recipient from the qualified applicants. She then introduced Xavier Rafael Figueroa as the scholarship’s first winner.

Choosing a winner from among the seven applicants for the YouthPower365 Dollars for Scholars scholarship was so difficult that the organization awarded money — ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 — to all the applicants.

Red Canyon and World Academy are all about individual attention, and that continues to graduation. Red Canyon teachers took turns providing quick glimpses of every graduate as those students came to the stage to accept their diplomas.

Graduates celebrate during the Red Canyon World Academy Class of 2022 commencement Friday at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott.
Madison Rahhal/For the Vail Daily

Honoring with rhyme

Jordan Bamberger put most of her vignettes into rhyme, including this one:

Such bravery, grit, resilience and determination,

Let your future unfold as a beautiful creation.

You have grown up and matured into someone so wise,

Overcoming the lows to reach these new highs.

A true burst of light como una estrella,

I proudly present to you Carly Valenzuela.

When teacher Dave Hanson introduced graduate Damon Ralston, he noted “When I first met this young man, I could barely get him to stay in class or give me the time of day. By the time he left, he was engaged and genuinely positive to interact with. I can’t wait to see where he goes!”

Many of the students had to overcome something to cross the stage Friday at 4 Eagle.

That hard work to make progress in life was what Swartz spoke about in her address:

“People will tell you this school is a last resort for kids with nothing left. They will tell you we are delinquents. We are lazy. We aren’t gifted, we aren’t special, we aren’t anything. Red Canyon and World Academy is our last chance, they say as if it’s some sort of rehab for children that will never be good enough. This simply isn’t true. Red Canyon works so hard to retain its reputation, but not the way other schools will.”

As graduates, parents, relatives and friends made their way back toward cake and lemonade, one parent, seeing a pair of Red Canyon staffers walking past said a loud and hearty “thank you!”

He certainly wasn’t alone.

By the numbers

12 World Academy graduates

54 Red Canyon High School graduates

64 Graduates attended Friday’s ceremony at 4 Eagle Ranch

 


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