Red Canyon grad: ‘I owe my life to this school’ |

Red Canyon grad: ‘I owe my life to this school’

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyMary Rodriguez, one of 29 graduating seniors, wipes away a tear during the Red Canyon High School graduation ceremony at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott on Friday.

WOLCOTT, Colorado ” When Scott Reiter tells people he attends Red Canyon High School, the response isn’t always complimentary.

They ask if that’s the school for screw-ups, an unfair assessment, and his retort is always the same, he said.

“Red Canyon is full of the kids that used to be screw-ups,” Reiter told the audience at the Class of 2008 graduation Friday at the 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott.

He means this in a loving way ” Red Canyon changes lives and turns young adults in the right direction, students and educators there say.

The teachers and students don’t hide the fact that many students wouldn’t be attending school if weren’t for Red Canyon. The students here are proud of their school, proud that it’s different, proud of their teachers, and proud that they’ve made it to graduation.

Reiter, who always felt like “the brown spot on the banana” at other schools where he had behavior problems, said he plans on becoming a teacher himself now, thanks to the impact of the Red Canyon staff. He’ll be attending Ft. Lewis College and plans to major in secondary education and journalism.

“In more ways than one, I owe my life to this school, and I look forward to returning the favor,” Reiter said.

Part of Red Canyon’s mission is for the teachers to develop close relationships with the students, principal Wade Hill has said. Every teacher takes a group of students under his or her wing, mentors them and gets to know them.

Having that connection not only shows student that someone cares, but having those role models helps the students feel close to the school and helps them see the importance of education. So, they end up working harder and trying harder, Hill says.

This is why the students appear to have a lot of fun honoring their teachers at graduation, as they do every year. Several students said it was the teachers who pushed them, inspired them and kept them in school.

Troy Dudley, apparently, can take a joke pretty well. If you’re having a bad day, and need someone to make fun of ” there’s Dudley, one student said.

Ann Constien, an English teacher, has a lot in common with Shakespeare, one of her favorite subjects. She’s witty and sarcastic, but can sometimes rub people the wrong way, Reiter said. Like Shakespeare though, “You just need to know how to read her,” Reiter said.

Christina Gosselin, a science teacher, has a way of “tricking” students into learning. She starts talking about things like scuba diving and weapons, then you end up learning about potential kinetic energy, velocity and acceleration.

Of the 28 graduates, four are going to four-year colleges, seven are going for associates degrees at two-year colleges, seven are going to vocational and tech school, and one student is joining the Marine Corps.

Randy Archuleta will be attending Wyoming Tech to learn auto maintenance and upholstery. He said the teachers at Red Canyon inspired him to try his hardest in school.

“They gave me the knowledge to move on into the real world,” Archuleta said.

Talia Lujan will be attending Colorado Mountain College, where she’ll likely study nutrition and science. She loved the small classes and the “expeditionary” style learning at Red Canyon.

“I learned that I can do anything put my mind to,” Lujan said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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