(Riverton, WY) – In front of friends, family and the Riverton School Board, seven Frontier Academy students moved their tassels and received their diplomas last night, May 23.
Frontier Success Coach and Registrar Shanell Stanley spoke on behalf of graduate Venus Abrams:
“When she came to us, she was ready. She was ready for that second chance. And she came in and she just was like she had always been there. She got into our circle on the first day. She just did everything, just as one would want somebody to do over time. She bought right into that climate that we’ve tried to have there and became part of our family.”
Frontier Counselor Sarah Hughes spoke on behalf of graduate Samantha Dickinson:
“She came to us from the virtual world as she adjusted to life circumstances that initially prevented her from in-person learning full-time. She navigated reintegration back into the in-person learning and balancing her health. She began to flourish and we started to see her bloom where she quite literally planted herself. Every bit of determination and grit it takes to be successful, which is why you see her here today, ready to claim that diploma that she earned. She made the choices to forge herself through adversity and meet her goals. It wasn’t always easy. There were tears, frustrations, laughter, eye rolls, and head shakes. A lot. Some from her, some from us. Maybe mostly from me. And ultimately a whole lot of heart. And that one word, heart, is how I would describe Sam. She feels big. She loves hard. She believes in all and now hopefully she believes in herself too. And with consistency over time, she exceeded her goals all because she needs her heart. Thank you, Sam, for the opportunity to speak for you today. Congratulations and best wishes as you move forward.”
Frontier teacher Rob Winn spoke on behalf of Dylan Garcia:
“My time with Dylan has simply been far too short. Dylan is one of those students that just simply moved through the classroom way too fast. This is a good thing as it represents his hard work, his compassion, and his dedication and perseverance. Dylan is an honest, intelligent young man with a great sense of humor. He brought a unique diversity to our little Phoenix family. From Dylan, I learned that not all books are read from left to right and that the front of the book may sometimes be the back of the book. As a testament to his character in his interview, Dylan shared that he was from the Philippines and that his family had immigrated to the United States. He also shared that he enjoyed cooking. I never miss an opportunity to have good, authentic food and I fully negotiated my way into Dylan having some food for us. I can say that I forgot about this entirely. However, this last week, we had a wonderful Adobo brought to our school along with a mango ice cream. That was really authentic and very wonderful. All the students and staff enjoyed. Also, as I think about his time, I look back and I can only recall Dylan being gone only a few times from school. One of the cool parts about that was that his time away from school was to earn his citizenship. So it is a great pleasure to introduce our new high school graduate Dylan Garcia and a fellow citizen.”
Hughes also spoke on behalf of graduate Luke Kariker:
“When Luke came to Frontier, I remember thinking what a kind, polite and reserved young man he was. Well, all of those things were true except reserved. There’s so much more to Luke. He’s a leader, a performer, a comedian, and an intellect. He genuinely cares about all the people who cross his path and will do nearly anything to get a smile and a laugh because seeing others happy is what Luke loves. While attending Frontier, Luke also held down a solid 20 hours a week for Little Caesars as the shift leader. As he prepared for graduation he started making post-secondary plans to attend CWC and is already enrolled in a full schedule ready for the fall semester to work toward a degree in business. The past year of getting to know Luke, we have watched him grow into a self-assured, driven young man who lives and loves in the present moment while setting goals and planning for the future. Through self-reflection, growth, and laughter Luke has seized ownership of his path and created opportunities for himself to achieve his goals successfully. Luke, you leave us with more memories than we can count and laughter to last us a lifetime. Wishing you the very best as you move forward.”
Frontier Academic Coach Rhiana Edgeington spoke on behalf of Havannah King:
“She’s a firecracker. She has a lot of personality in this one. We only had her for a semester. At first, she was pretty guarded, I’d say. Didn’t really want to partake in our culture, our family, but after a while, you know, she let her guard down. And every day, she walked through the front door and asked me if I wanted to fight. We might have thrown a shoe at each other in a very playful manner. You’re a fiery soul. But you bought in, and I’m so proud of you. She really embraced our culture once she, you know, figured out that Frontier was home and people here care about her. She shined. And I’m so proud of her.”
Frontier teacher Ross Ziegler spoke on behalf of Savanna Malan:
“Savanna jumped right in. She came to us from Colorado. … So she came in and kind of jumped right in and started flying through the courses. She worked a lot at Pony, the coffeehouse here, so if you go there, you might recognize her. You’re thinking, well, how do you work 30-35 hours at Pony and still go to school? Well, because she texted me at different times of the day, the night, and on weekends. So she was working constantly in her free time, because she really had a goal when she came in to graduate by the end of this school year. And so here she is, standing here in front of us, a graduate from Frontier. She came into my classroom and just, you know, brought in a great personality, a great individualism but at the same time willing to accept all the other personalities that were in there and just be a part of the group, so she is definitely a part of the family.”
Frontier Principal Justin Taylor spoke on behalf of Estrella Savage:
“So what can I say about Estrella? She’s here today with a pure heart and self-determination. Yes, Frontier was there to help support her, but what a truly amazing journey Estrella has had this past year and a half. So let’s go back to the beginning when we accepted Estrella in the spring of last year, because she was referred from a past graduate that we actually saw today and is here tonight as well. She had been in school for a few months and came from another district and she was struggling to find herself and reaching out to us. And as a staff, every once in a while, you get those students that you say we need to take the student because if we don’t who knows what’s going to happen to this student? So the last couple of months of last year were quite well. Estrella made a name for herself. Her personality came out. We got to see how funny, witty, caring, and such actually a polite person that we got to see from her. We were so excited. We were excited that she was just going to excel. But guess what? With the new year comes new challenges. And we started to meet as a staff and we were going okay, you know, what’s going on? How can we help Estrella? And come to find out she was having some of her own struggles that were starting to kind of overflow into the school, overflow to the classroom. And not gonna lie. There was a day or two there that I didn’t know if I was gonna see her. And we were lucky enough to reach out and get her the help that she needed. And I can truly say thank God that she took that opportunity because she needed to take that time for herself. And then as I like to say cowboy up and come back, but it more fits into our model of becoming a phoenix rising from the ashes and coming back. And she came back and did something that I can’t say a lot of people could do. She came and said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I put you guys through.’ And it was hard for me. It’s hard for me to say that now. Because in the 23-24 years of being an educator, has another student done that? I can’t say that they have. She became an advocate for herself. She asked for a quiet place. … I mean, we had her in the back office, she needed a quiet place. She earned it. We gave it to her. She used Mrs. Hughes for a little extra counseling because that’s what she needed. It was awesome to see. But then we’d start to hear this little thing a couple of weeks ago say, ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna make it. I don’t know if I’m gonna make it.’ So well, there’d be afternoon walks around the track. I mean, I don’t know how many miles you did, but it was a lot. And then we had Ms. Stan. They would put these study plans together, and there were these extravagant paper-breaking ceremonies to show her how much work she was doing because the journey that she was doing was just amazing. So Estrella, you are here today as a very successful young woman because of one thing, because of you. I want you to own that. Okay. Have that confidence in yourself. Because not just one thing for tomorrow, the next day, or years to come because you did something I’m not sure I could do. You accomplished so much and I’m so proud of you.”
The seven graduates were given the opportunity to speak as well. They all thanked the school board, superintendent, and Frontier staff for the opportunity they were given. They also thanked their friends and families for their support. Each one also shared how proud they were of themselves for achieving this goal.