Friendships defined Red Canyon’s graduates |

Friendships defined Red Canyon’s graduates

WOLCOTT ” Troy Dudley has been known to play hackey sack with his Red Canyon High School students between classes.

Then, it’s back to deep discussions on communism, religion, gay marriage and politics.

Dave Manzella, well, he’s a bit of a hippie and big on recycling, the students say. He’ll be talking about the collapse of society one minute and an episode of “The Simpsons” the next.

Jessica Fox, sporting a fan-like mowhawk with a split graduation cap plastered to each side, said English teacher Ann Constien made her a better writer, while they clashed on fashion and music.

Before receiving their diplomas at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott Friday, the graduating class at Red Canyon lined up to honor, thank and poke fun at the educators that changed their lives. While there was the usual slew of speeches, good-byes and scholarship awards, it was easy to see that students and teachers there develop bonds that you don’t often see in larger high schools.

Several students said it was the teachers who pushed them, inspired them and kept them in school.

“Relationships, not programs, change the lives of kids,” Principal Wade Hill said.

Red Canyon is an alternative high school for kids that don’t fit in the traditional high school world. Students work in small classes, have individualized lessons and work on in-depth projects. And with more than half the graduating class of 21 likely to attend college, it seems to have been a good year, Hill said.

“I was there only one year, but it changed my life. Red Canyon opened up my eyes,” said Wilber Mendez, who became the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He said he couldn’t imagine graduating from any other school and will be studying business at Colorado Mountain College.

Diana Feiler will soon be going moving to the West Coast, where she’ll go to school at the University of California Santa Barbara and major in biology.

“The learning style fit me” we got to know the teachers very well,” Feiler said.

Brittany Riggin will be attending the University of Central Oklahoma where she’ll study art and psychology. She said high school was great after she started attending Red Canyon.

“I’m proud of sticking with it and doing the best I could,” Riggin said. “High school eventually paid off, and I got into a good college.”

Teachers were the ones handing out diplomas at this graduation. And as the students honored them, the teachers had time to say something about every student.

We learned that Kevin Chadwick is the king of volunteer hours. Feiler speaks three languages ” English, German and Spanish. Math teacher Brad Scales said Ana Sandoval is such a good leader she could turn a whole class against him.

“I’m sad to be leaving,” Feiler said.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

Erica R. Atencio

David S. Martinez

Mark Lujan Cadmus

Alysha R. Cummings

Bianca Aguilar

Diana Siegrid Feiler

Wilber Mendez

Erica G. Lopez

Cherii M. Fresquez

Matthew Kipferl

Ana P. Sandoval

Andrew J. Martinez

Kevin Chadwick

Stephen Tyler Nottingham

Brittany M. I. Riggin

Jessica E. Fox

Christopher Sandoval

Micah Jay Morris

Justin J. Tribby

Marisol Zapata

Maribel Garcia

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