New America School opens new doors for graduates |

New America School opens new doors for graduates

Lauren Glendenning

GYPSUM, Colorado – If one thing was evident at The New America School graduation ceremony Saturday, it was that the students worked extra hard to earn their places on that stage.

The New America School in Gypsum graduated 14 students – students who had kept their desire to succeed at the forefront of their minds, even when many obstacles stood in the way.

“Anything is possible,” said Crystal Montoya, the senior class speaker. “Even if the beginning of your journey is rough and you think you will not make it.”

They did make it, and the students all thanked The New America School and its staff for making that possible. The school is a charter school for recent immigrants who want to learn English and high school diplomas. The school allows a lot of flexibility for students so they can continue to work and be parents without having to sacrifice their education.

Montoya was a perfect example of that flexibility – she has a daughter who she could often bring to class with her at night, and she’s also expecting a second child.

“Getting my high school diploma has been a journey,” she said.

Tears flowed as the graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. The family and friends in the audience knew the struggles they went through, and the students and teachers shed tears of happiness as they watched all the hard work pay off.

“It’s like watching your own children graduate,” said New America School teacher Heather Goodrich, as she wiped away tears. “The obstacles they have had to overcome are impossible for some people to even comprehend.”

Tina Griego, the Denver Post columnist who was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, told the students they were the future of a global world and to never give up.

“Sometimes (as immigrants), it’s hard to find your place,” she said.

But the New America graduates did find their places, both in the new America they have come to call home and within themselves. The students didn’t have to go to school and earn their diplomas – they chose to go to school.

It was easy to see how important the students were to the school’s faculty by looking at Principal Kathy Brendza’s face. She fought back tears through most of the ceremony and looked as if she, just like Goodrich, was watching her own children on that stage.

“This has not been an easy road for all of our students,” she said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User