Vail Christian honors first state champ |

Vail Christian honors first state champ

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyNordic state champion Jessica Linder, left, is presented with a plaque by Vail Christian School athletic director Michael King

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Jessica Linder of Vail Christian School isn’t your average high school student because average just isn’t good enough.

Linder, a senior at Vail Christian High School, just made history ” she’s the first athlete to become a state champion at the school. Linder, a Nordic skier, won two state races last week. Her school honored her and several other students for athletic and academic achievements at a ceremony Friday.

Mike King, the school’s athletic director, said Linder once told him she was addicted to hard work. He said that’s an understatement coming from her.

Linder goes to school, then heads to practice until about 7:30 p.m. before coming home to hit the books for the rest of the night. She repeats that schedule throughout the week, and practices her skiing all weekend, too ” she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You have to want to better yourself,” she said. “If not, you become stagnant and no longer grow.”

The school recognized Linder for academics, too. She participated in an academic decathlon, a series of tests in economics, social science, math, literature and other subject. All the recognition is a little overwhelming, she said, because she does what she does because she wants to, not for the praise.

“It almost is an addition,” she said. “If I get the recognition, I get it. If not, that’s OK. I’m pretty introverted with an extroverted exterior.”

Recognition comes often for many high school athletes ” there are wins, tournaments, awards banquets, newspaper articles and uniforms donned throughout the hallways showing everyone that they’re part of a team. But also getting recognition Friday was Bo Dwyer, a Vail Christian senior who is about to graduate with the highest grade point average in the school’s history.

Students with the best grades might get acknowledged on a dean’s list or honor roll, but there isn’t a ton of recognition beyond that, Dwyer said. He’s getting it now, though.

Dwyer is a candidate for the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and recently became a National Merit Scholar. He also just got accepted to the California Institute of Technology and plans to go there in the fall.

When Dwyer started high school he made a decision to work hard so he too would be anything but average, he said. He wanted to line himself up to get into the best colleges, setting himself up for a successful life.

“I wanted to see if I can’t jump up an extra level,” he said.

He laughs because he said he doesn’t study all that much. He works hard, but academics just come naturally. He wore medals around his neck showing his wins in the academic decathlon ” there were so many he looked like Michael Phelps did after the Olympics.

“It’s fun to be recognized,” he said.

Vail Christian HIgh School parents, students and staff cheered on Dwyer, Linder and about 10 other students who were recognized. The theme that resonated throughout the assembly was excellence.

“For Vail Christian High School, this is a big day,” said Eagle County Commissioner John Stavney.

Linder didn’t forget to give thanks and recognition right back to where it came from, either. When the school presented her with the plaque declaring her a state champion, she handed it back over to the school for it to hang on its walls.

“I wanted to honor the school,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from my coaches and teachers. … The school has taught me how to respect and be humble.”

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

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