Vail Christian grads earn $3M for college |

Vail Christian grads earn $3M for college

Crane McGuckin, Christina Cheesman and Tony Clark are among Vail Christian High School's 27 graduates in 2015. Those 27 graduates attracted more than $3 million in merit scholarships.
Special to the Daily |

Vail Christian High School’s 27 graduates earned $3 million in merit scholarships.

Let that roll around in your brain for a moment while you consider Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

We hope that clears it up.

Seniors’ selections

Vail Christian’s senior board reads like a who’s who for upper-tier colleges. There’s this display with their pictures on it, and the seniors list what colleges they’ve applied to. They put a blue X by the ones to which they’ve been accepted (Almost all those names sport a blue X). The chosen colleges get a red line under them — and it’s these kids choosing the colleges, not the opposite.

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A few weeks back, a local scholarship committee was visiting Vail Christian and asked this: “Do you encourage them to go to out-of-state private schools?”

“No, but they can go anywhere,” said Nancy Whitley, VCHS’s college counselor.

They emphasize faith, fit and funding — in that order Whitley said.

“They do their prayerful consideration and research. They owned the process of finding a school that fits them,” Whitley said.

It’s a most eclectic list of schools. Gonzaga, Creighton, University of Chicago, the Ivy League, of course … the list is long and impressive. Five of the 27 graduates will play college sports.

The most unlikely might be Luke Herron. He’ll swim for Augustana, even though there’s no high school swimming program in Eagle County. He swam for clubs and Glenwood High School.

Be like these three

Spend a few moments with any Vail Christian student and you’ll see it. We picked Christina Cheesman, Tony Clark and Crane McGuckin.

Cheesman is this year’s valedictorian, and she is graduating in three years.

She could have done it in two, but wanted to have a normal school experience.

When she was in seventh grade, the principal in her middle school said there was nothing more they could teach her. Yeah, she’s that smart.

She found the Davidson Academy for gifted and talented in Reno, Nevada, and spent her eighth grade year there, taking college classes at the University of Nevada Reno. She returned to the valley for her freshman year, and enrolled at Vail Christian.

Three days into the fall semester, she decided she was in the wrong classes. They were covering old ground for her. So she took the exam to test out of pre-calculus and blew the top out of it. Maybe they were trying to get a handle on how smart she is. Or maybe they figured that no one could test out of a calculus class and little adversity might do her good.

She’s still waiting for that particular lesson in adversity. Cheesman, who was born and raised in the valley, is headed to Boston College, the first from Vail Christian to go there.

“I’m a total local,” she said proudly.

Clark is headed in the other direction, Pepperdine, on the Pacific coast in Malibu, California.

Clark was looking for a smaller Christian school, and it helped that the beach is right there. The evening before his official visit, he walked around 45 minutes and knew the Pacific coast was where he wanted to attend college. He’ll study business administration/sports management and minor in theology.

He wanted to attend Vail Christian, so he applied for financial aid.

“Thankfully someone was generous,” he said.

He said he accepted Christ as his savior at a Young Life camp and got active in Calvary Chapel Vail Valley.

It’s been great to see how the church and school have grown and worked together,” Clark said.

McGuckin is headed for the middle of the country and Baylor University. He played hockey, golf and lacrosse.

His sister graduated Baylor last weekend, but he had made up his mind months ago.

“I like the Christian aspect of the school,” McGuckin said. “Through high school, Baylor was in the back of my mind.”

He said he has known VCHS was in his future since middle school. His two older sisters went there, so it was a natural fit.

“I like the Christian aspect and the education is outstanding. The opportunities are better than any other school,” McGuckin said.

Family and faith

“My faith and family have played a huge role in where I am today,” McGuckin said. “My faith played the biggest role, guiding me toward the Christian aspect of Baylor.”

He said he was considering schools back east, but his faith pushed him in a different direction.

The same for Clark.

“I could never have come here without the sacrifices my family made or the support the church family at Calvary has provided,” Clark said. “It pushed me toward a Christian school, to somewhere I can keep growing in my faith.”

Cheesman said her family made it all possible.

“My family, especially my two older brothers and my parents have been encouraging of me. They’ve gone along with some crazy moments,” Cheesman said. “They taught me that there’s a difference between knowing who God is and having a relationship with God.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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