Vail Valley grad inspired his family |

Vail Valley grad inspired his family

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily

GYPSUM – Scott Reiter said in 2008 that he owed his life to Red Canyon High School and that he couldn’t wait to return the favor someday by becoming a teacher there.

Reiter, who died in a rafting accident on the Piedra River in Pagosa Springs, Colo. May 7, was the keynote speaker at the alternative high school’s graduation ceremony in Wolcott last year and it was obvious why school officials had asked him to come back and share some words of wisdom with the 2009 graduating class.

“He was the heart and soul of our school,” said Red Canyon Principal Wade Hill. “The kiddo was a rock star for us. He was one that had figured it out and was doing a fantastic job – we were very proud of him.”

Reiter had worked hard to get to where he was in life. The combination of severe attention deficit disorder and a high IQ made school difficult for him, said Holly Snyder, his mother.

He often acted up and had behavior problems in school as a child, she said.

The problems in school weren’t getting any better until the teachers at Red Canyon High School helped Reiter.

“Those teachers should be nominated for sainthood for what they do with kids,” Snyder said.

Scott Reiter’s parents never gave up on him, though, when the other authority figures in his life seemed as though they had. Those who didn’t believe in him wore down on their son’s self esteem, but he, too, never gave up.

Both Snyder and Scott Reiter’s father, Randy Reiter, say they are grateful for the way the school helped get their son on the right track.

“I’m so proud that he proved them wrong,” Snyder said. “He was a success story. He was on top of the world. It was such a wrong time for him to die.”

Scott Reiter was the kind of person who not only lit up the room when he entered, but he was someone who cared about people. He cared about the success of others as much, if not more, than his own success.

That’s why he had grown so passionate about going back to Red Canyon High School to help teach and inspire the kids just like him – those who need help finding their way and realizing their potential in life.

“He wanted to make some kind of difference in the world,” Randy Reiter said. “He would surprise me so much in how wise and mature he was. I was just so proud of him.”

Scott Reiter had turned a lot of the negatives in his life into positives, Randy Reiter said. He entered Red Canyon High School as a sophomore with almost no credits and ended up graduating close to the top of his class.

The hard work earned him a scholarship to Fort Lewis College in Durango. He called his mother just weeks ago to tell her that he had gotten her the best Mother’s Day present ever – straight As this past semester.

Scott Reiter was following his dreams and had a job practically waiting for him at Red Canyon, Snyder said. She’s is heartbroken that her son not only didn’t get to live out his dreams, but that students will never get to benefit from all he would have taught them.

“The whole world got robbed when he left the planet,” she said.

Scott Reiter’s older sister, Rachel Reiter, remembers how her brother had a natural ability to connect with people. He visited her while she was studying abroad and she remembers him being such a hit among her overseas friends.

“My foreign friends couldn’t believe he was real,” Rachel Reiter said. “He could relate to anyone from any background – he could find common ground with anybody.”

It was Scott Reiter’s natural leadership qualities that made people just flock to him, Rachel Reiter said. Their whole family was so happy that he started realizing that he could use those qualities to inspire other kids.

If there’s one legacy Snyder wants her son to have, it’s that other kids just like Scott Reiter will fulfill their dreams in his memory.

“Whatever I have to do, I will raise enough money to make sure somebody gets to be the teacher he wanted to be,” Snyder said. “I will miss him every day for the rest of my life – he was such a gift.”

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

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