Vail Valley’s Red Canyon students’ winding path leads to commencement

Forty members of Class of 2019 flip their tassels Friday in Eagle

EAGLE — It’s a winding path to the commencement line for Red Canyon High School and World Academy students.

The cheering started Friday at 4-Eagle Ranch as the graduates strode into a raucous rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance,” belted out on an electric guitar. Cheers rang out through the ceremony, and why not.

Thank you

“These past few years have not been a walk in the park,” Kim Covarrubias said in her student welcome.

She quoted Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” These graduates had all kinds of times.

“Our work was not wasted. It does not stop here. Fellow Dragons … the tassel was worth the hassle,” she said.

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Yasmin Guerrero thanked parents and faculty saying, “Thank you for putting up with our crap … thank you for the endless love you give us. We would not be here without the sweat and love from our teachers.”

Carol Macias thanked the faculty for their kindness, patience and the regular reminders to “go to class.”

Red Canyon Principal Troy Dudley welcomed the big, enthusiastic crowd and praised the students and faculty, saying the day-to-day is where the challenges live and occasionally lurk.

Alternative education is vital

Like all schools, alternative high schools are not for everyone, but they’re vital for those who need it, said graduates Ella Dose and Rachel Hanson.

Hanson’s father died of lung cancer when she was 16. She was lost in her large high school and landed at Red Canyon. She won the Crawlin’ To A Cure scholarship for people whose lives have been hammered by cancer.

“It means I have a home in a system for people like me. Alternative education is not for everyone, but for the people who need it, it’s crucial,” Hanson said.

Dose said she has had senioritis since she was a freshman, but found focus at Red Canyon. Online classes and flexible schedules create so many possibilities, Dose said.

“The school fits the student, instead of the student being forced to fit the school,” Dose said.

That flexibility means two Red Canyon graduates have already earned professional nursing certifications. More are filling local apprenticeships and are on their way to careers. Tom Gladditsch and Debby Beard help run Red Canyon’s job-ready program.

“Employers have told us that if they’re trained, they’ll hire them and pay them more,” Gladditsch said.

Jessica Martinez added that language skills are also a vital job skill. Two grads earned bi-literacy certificates.

Mom and school board president

School board president Kate Cocchiarella’s daughter is a member of Red Canyon’s Class of 2019. Her keynote address shifted seamlessly from Spanish to English and back, as she shared some wisdom and lots of heart.

“Today is the beginning of a world of possibilities,” Cocchiarella said.

She thanked the students for all they have taught her.

“You have reminded me what’s truly important,” Cocchiarella said, citing laughter, love, listening and occasional nicknames.

As for advice, Cocchiarella said the best is what they already know: Challenge authority. Check your facts. Don’t stop testing limits and pushing boundaries.

This is what got you here and will take you far.

Be kind to those around you. Don’t get taken advantage of. Don’t let people walk over you.

“Keep learning and be nice,” Cocchiarella said.

Jen Schrader gave the charge, telling the Class of 2019 they were “too legit to quit.”

Cesar Rascon’s senior message extoled his fellow graduates’ ability to accomplish so much — learning, having a business, starting a business, headed to college and careers.

“If someone tells you that you cannot do it, make them swallow their words by their name showing up on the application list for your business,” Rascon said.

Finally, their winding paths to graduation turned toward the stage where the 61 members of Red Canyon High School and World Academy’s Class of 2019 embraced their diplomas, each with a quick recap of their young lives and accomplishments.

And with that they they flipped their tassels from right to left and strode confidently into the rest of their lives.

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