Members of the Class of 2019 reflect on experiences, hopes and dreams

Senior quotes from the Class of 2019


Emily Carlson, Polaris Expeditionary Learning School, Class of 2019 Emily Carlson

        "The teachers here really let students explore their interests. Assignments aren't 'read this chapter; take this test,' they're open to what students are passionate about. The staff here is passionate about helping you become who you want to be. 

I am now finding that I have a great passion for emergency medicine. I feel it's where I can do the most. I just finished the Career Pathways Medical Exploration program and have earned my nursing assistant certification (CNA). During one of my classes, we got to meet a Flight For Life team, and one of the women was talking about her career, and it made me realize I could do that, too. 

Next year, I'm going to UNC to pursue becoming a registered nurse. After that, I'm going to go after my career in emergency medicine. I have been working as a CNA for the past couple months, and kind of stepping away from school, and moving forward. Everyone here talks about how proud they are of me, and I'm just so thankful for all the support I've gotten from the people here at Polaris and my family and friends."


Timothy Cortez, Poudre High School, Class of 2019 

Timothy Cortez        “Freshman year, I joined theatre just for fun. It became this whole other world that I looked forward to every day after school. When I’m in the zone of sewing something or trying to figure out a costume, that’s when I feel like I’m at my best. Finding that community in theatre was like ‘this is where I want to be for the next four years.’ In November of 2017, my mom and twin brother were killed in a car accident. I think what brought me back to school and continuing everything I was doing was the support that Poudre showed me and realizing how much Poudre cared about me and my family and what we were going through. I was on the brink of debating whether I wanted to finish my junior year or not, but the support that I got drove me to run for class president and continue striving. 

My mom was passionate about education, and her passion makes me want to continue schooling after high school. My brother, he completely understood what he was going to do with his life. His clarity made me understand that I should pick a passion in pursue that with all my heart. 

That year, a senior and I started making lesson plans and reaching out to elementary schools to build connections between high schoolers and kindergartners so they could be excited for their future journey in education. When I was in first grade, we had ‘book buddies’ who were high schoolers and it made me so excited to go to high school. To give that opportunity to other kids was my dream when I saw those kids.”


Christian Dykson, Fort Collins High School, Class of 2019

Christian Dykson“I want to be president someday. I plan to study Political Science, Spanish, and Pre-law at CSU. Then, I will run for City Council in Fort Collins, Mayor, Governor, and then President. Each of those platforms in my journey are an opportunity to serve my city, state, and nation. But, I will always be a Lambkin at heart.

I’m a member of Key Club, which started the Custodian Service Initiative (CSI) in 2017. The CSI is an effort to foster connections and create a culture of respect, dignity, and love for our custodial staff. We held a 2017 CSI Parade. FCHS clubs and 150 students,  wearing CSI T-shirts, marched with a banner and a giant cake to thank our custodians – a big surprise to them. We now have a CSI Board in P Hall with our custodians’ pictures, names and profiles so students can get to know them. The CSI Board reminds us of the heroes who clean our school after we leave each day. Our custodians also protect the aesthetics and traditions of FCHS. We are all ambassadors of our school and CSI is a step toward recognizing that.

The Ashoka Young Changemakers organization selected the CSI project for recognition next month. I will fly to Washington D.C. to represent the project to the New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten and the Ashoka Young Changemakers Chief Executive Officer William Drayton,”

Alexis Flink, Poudre Community Academy, Class of 2019 

   Alexis Flink     "Two years ago, on New Year’s Eve, my stepfather died by suicide. I wanted to drop out right then. I missed a lot of school and fell behind. I was trying my best; I would come to school in the mornings, but I would call my parents throughout the day saying 'I want to go home; I don't want to do this.' I thought I would never graduate. But the more I pushed myself to show up, the more I realized, 'wow, I can do this.'

I had friends and family that supported me. My teachers would see me trying to hide myself, kind of curling up and start crying, and they gave me space. They would ask me if I was OK, if I needed anything, and if I needed to go. It started to slowly feel like I was going back to a normal life.When I was grieving, I felt like I was never going to do anything with my life. But after everything, I pushed through and graduated top of my class, valedictorian. It opened my eyes. If I can get through this, I can do anything." 


Brooke Giffin, Polaris Expeditionary Learning School, Class of 2019

Brooke Griffin        “For my senior project, I took an online course in journalism and planned a trip to go to the borderlands in Arizona. While I was there, I witnessed an operation streamline court proceeding, which is where they mass prosecute migrants. In the span of about an hour, I saw 70 people’s lives get ruined. I talked to a lot of people who had first-hand experiences and who were affected by policy surrounding immigration. Some had been held in for-profit detention centers, some had crossed the desert, some were immigration attorneys.

It was a transformative experience for me. I want to be a politician, and I think it’s important that you are connected with and educated about what’s happening around you.”


CJ Hendrie, Rocky Mountain High School, Class of 2019 

CJ Hendrie         "On my first day of high school, I was absolutely mortified. I was terrified of how my peers would perceive me and how I would be able to function starting my high school experience as a transgender man. I didn't know how to be happy. I thought I would just put my head down and wait until I got to the 'real world.' But I realized this is a smaller version of the real world, and it's going to form who I am going to be for the rest of my life. 

My school and my peers have allowed me to become a person I'm very proud of. I went from having no semblance of self confidence to being confident in myself. I went from a place of shame with my identity and wanting people to never know that about me, to it being my greatest source of pride. I feel like Rocky gave me that space to be the person I always wanted to be."


Cierra Johnson, Poudre Community Academy, Class Cierra Johnsonof 2019 

        “I've been here since my freshman year. At PCA, we're pretty much a family. The teachers have all helped me out so much. Before I came here, I was getting into trouble, but this school has really bettered me. There were so many things I thought I couldn't do, but the teachers made sure that I did. After I graduate, I'm going to take a year off. In three weeks, I'm going to Mexico, then Thailand and New Zealand. I've always wanted to travel the world. I really just want to experience different cultures. I'm from a really small town, so I just want to experience the world before I have anything holding me back. 

Once I get home from my trips, I am planning on going to CSU. I don't know what I want to study yet, but I know I'll figure it out."


Brenna Ketchum, Fossil Ridge High School, Class of 2019 

        “I lived in Cambodia and India when I was a kid. We hBrenna Ketchumad to move back when I was in ninth grade ... and I came to this giant school. That adjustment has been hard. I still feel that I am settling, but I have more of a sense of belonging here than I did when I first started. I got super involved with different activities this year. Last year, I started trying new things like joining Amnesty International, and I’m a leader in it now. I also joined Diversity Leadership and Awareness, and we promote diversity in school. We’re really small, but we try to make a difference. I feel like all the little things I’ve been able to do to influence people inside and outside of school have defined my high school experience.”


Harper Lowrey, Poudre High School, Class of 2019  

    “I think if I met my freshman self, we would barely Harper Lowreyrecognize each other. High school has been such a journey, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much it has shaped me. 

For me, graduation is going to be so bittersweet as a recognition of everything we have done and as a close to the way our lives have been. I am so excited to see where I end up, and I know that I have made friends that I will cherish forever.” 



Sophia Martin, Centennial High School, Class of 2019

Sophia Martin“I think that all of the students here have the same thing in common. We didn't think we would graduate. I wouldn't be here, about to get my diploma, if I didn't have this unique and welcoming school.

The teachers here get to know you outside of who you are as a student, and that makes it fun to come to school. Because the teachers get to know us so well, everything I've learned applies to my educational life, but also to who I am as a person. Every single teacher here tries to get us to engage." 


Jimmy Schmidt, PSD Global Academy, Class of 2019 Jimmy Schmidt

        "Performance has kind of been my thing for the majority of my life because I’ve always been a bit of a show off. When I was around nine or ten years old, I joined a martial arts demo team, where we would perform choreographed pieces. Now I’m moving into more free-form stuff and trying to learn new things like Chinese yo-yo, devil sticks, uni-cycling, and maybe even slacklining.

My options are super wide open as I head to graduation because there are so many things that I’m interested in. I’m currently going to Front Range Community College as well as high school. I could keep going and get an associate degree in psychology or I can go into the political spectrum. I could also get associate degree and then leave to wander the world. No matter what I do next year, I am going to keep learning, growing and exploring.” 


Diondre Tanner, Rocky Mountain High School, Class of 2019 Diondre Tanner

        "When I came to high school, I was experiencing depression, so my circle of friends got smaller. I ended up in a social circle that cared for me, but wasn't the best influence. I wasn’t being nice to people around me. My friends were getting in trouble, and some of them wanted to drop out of school. When my brother passed away, I realized that I needed to stay true to myself. I started being more compassionate. My grades started to go up, and teachers noticed that I was making more of an effort. 

Before, I didn’t have a vision for my future, but now I definitely do. I want to be a social worker. Next year, I’ll go to Front Range Community College, and after I earn my associate degree, I plan on transferring to CSU."


Emily Winn, Fort Collins High School, Class of 2019 

        "I'm very passionate about community. At Fort Collins Emily WinnHigh School, I was very involved with DECA and National Honor Society, serving as president of both organizations this year. I also helped to start the Collins Communications Council. It's where leaders of all the clubs in the school get together and really work to uplift each other rather than competing. I also served on the Fort Collins Youth Advisory Board, which was a great way to get involved with the larger Fort Collins Community.

I think it's really important to plug in early. I think a lot of people are scared to get directly involved and put themselves out there, but if you have a passion and you have drive, whatever you put your efforts toward will be a success."