Outstanding Graduates

Congratulations Class of 2020
 
Congratulations to the thousands of Douglas County School District graduates who are well on their way towards a bright future! We recognize your accomplishments and are proud to have been part of your educational journey.

Here is just a small sampling of what lies ahead for some of our graduates. These students are being recognized by their school principals/administrators for their outstanding academic success and personal attributes! As we receive more submissions from our DCSD principals/administrators, we will add to our graduate list below.

Also, check out this year's DCSD Perseverance Scholarship recipients!


Ushmi Akruwala, Highlands Ranch HS

Ushmi Akruwala, 
Highlands Ranch High School

I will attend the University of Guelph

  • Received approximately $500,000 in scholarships across all universities
  • AP Scholar with Distinction - and on academic honor roll with a 4.0+ GPA every semester
  • DECA: Junior year: 2nd place at nationals, 3rd place at state - Senior year: 4th and 5th place in two events, qualifying for nationals


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Being an immigrant, I have faced tough choices the last few months. The largest of these is not knowing where I will end up going to college. Because of COVID-19, all the places I volunteer at are either closed or are currently not accepting volunteers. I am doing what I can to prepare for the next chapter of my life, regardless of where it will be. I am taking online biochemistry classes to prepare me for college, while trying to reach out to online communities for both of my future (possible) universities. I am keeping track of all my schoolwork, and continuing to turn it in, even though grades can't go down and I have higher than a 98% in most of my classes.




Brian Avner

Brian Avner, 
Mountain Vista High School

I will attend University of California, Berkeley

  • While serving as Technology Student Association (TSA) president, created weekly engineering challenges and lessons for fellow students
  • TSA state champion in multiple areas
  • Co-Founded a hip-hop dance crew called “Brunch Squad”


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

The engineering and design process has given me a lot of practice at being resilient, and being able to move forward in life. For a Lockheed Martin competition, I spent eight months with my younger brother researching, designing, and programming a model rocket capable of calculating its trajectory, taking weather readings, and visually identifying targets on the ground. It crashed and blew up during a test launch the day before the competition, blowing our circuitry to smithereens. We stayed up all night completely redesigning and rebuilding in twelve hours what had taken us hundreds. By some miracle, we were able to pull through and win the competition. Engineering has taught me that life is all about salvaging what you can from a mess, then rethinking your strategy with what you have. Often, my spectacular failures lead to my favorite results




Hunter Ball Legend High School

Hunter Ball, 
Legend High School

I will attend the University of Arizona

  • Interned at NASA
  • Created the website for Parker Food Rescue, a Legend High School based non-profit organization
  • Co-Founded a local app development company with five Legend High School peers


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I think our resiliency within the class of 2020 won't be quite like anything before or after us. We were born right after the September 11th attacks, and we are graduating high school during a global health pandemic. Many traditions we looked forward to have been cancelled, and we have been forced to prioritize meaning in our lives. In the age of social media, digitalism, and innovation, we miss the analog and traditions of years past, but all we can do is be resilient and hope for the best.




Mackenzie Boyd, Castle View HS

Mackenzie Boyd, 
Castle View High School

I will attend Colorado College

  • Boettcher Scholar
  • Completed 700 hours of service work, most with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
  • Started a nonprofit called “Project: Distributing Dignity” to help girls on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation stay in school


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Martin Luther King once said that we are not makers of history. We are made by history. In that vein, resiliency isn’t born in a day, or a month, or a pandemic. Resiliency is a gift that is only bestowed after time has passed and reflection has been made. Oftentimes, resiliency is obtained through grief.

Grief comes in many forms, and many will be grieving experiences lost after this period. They call it the seven stages of grief for a reason: it takes time to process events before you can truly understand and accept them, and accept the way they changed you.

I truly cannot foresee how this event will prepare me for the next phase of my life and improve my resiliency, but I know that in the future, reflecting back, I will see that this event changed me in unprecedented ways. I will have a better understanding of myself and hopefully will be more courageous to face my fears and new challenges.




Sydney Brown, Chaparral High School

Sydney Brown, 
Chaparral High School

I will attend Lipscomb University

  • Recipient of the Blue C Outstanding Junior Award
  • Female lead role in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Christine Colgate)
  • CHS Encore Players, CHS Jazz Choir, and Colorado Allstate Choir member


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Resilience is a very important trait to possess, as life never goes exactly as planned. It is this ability to come back from being knocked down that allows me to wake up every morning and keep going, knowing that the best is yet to come. That being said, with all that we’ve been through, the Class of 2020 is certainly resilient. Sure, we seniors lost our final performances and games, our prom, our senior activities and goodbyes, but that makes us all the more ready to go out and change the world. We are taking care of one another as best as we can and looking forward to our futures.




Aspyn Cavanaugh, DCHS

Aspyn Cavanaugh, 
Douglas County High School

I will attend Utah State

  • Diagnosed at beginning of freshman year with an aggressive form of cancer - returned to DCHS her sophomore year
  • Maintained academics online during her health struggles and is graduating on time
  • Took aquatic bio and memorized 60 fish (special shout out to Mr. Jeff Allen!)


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I am so ready to move on to the next chapter of my life! I’m ready to hopefully meet new people, explore a new place, and just try something new. During this time of isolation, I was able to be even more prepared for the next chapter of my life. I had so much time on my hands, I was able to look a little deeper into what I was going to do.




Jayendra Chauhan, Rock Canyon HS

Jayendra Chauhan, 
Rock Canyon High School

I will attend Stanford University

  • Created website and won the Congressional App Challenge
  • Black belt in karate
  • Presenter at the Western Medical Research Conference


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

It's inspiring to see all of the stories about people who are dedicated to helping others through the challenges of Coronavirus, from landlords waiving rent to people volunteering to get groceries for the elderly and others at high risk. It's a reminder that no matter what's going on in the world, we always have the power to choose how to react and remain resilient in the face of whatever challenges we're confronted with.




Anand Chundi, SkyView Academy

Anand Chundi, 
SkyView Academy

I will attend Duke University

  • Placed third at the 2018 Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, and qualified for the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
  • Accumulated over 500 hours as a volunteer team lead at Swedish Medical Center
  • Qualified as a National Merit Finalist


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Throughout my time in high school, I have made many close friends who I have not been able to see consistently due to the global pandemic. However, the bonds I have formed with my peers and teachers are resilient, and they will persist through these challenging times. I think that’s the most important thing for me to keep in mind as I prepare to enter college: it’s not just about the work that you put in, but it’s also about the relationships that you foster with those around you.




Vincent Cruz, eDCSD

Vincent Cruz, 
eDCSD

I hope to break into the amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) circuit in Colorado

  • Survived many personal challenges
  • Learned to define himself, rather than letting others define who he is or should be
  • Overcame depression and addiction


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Resilience has never been anything new for me in any aspect of my life, but now more than ever. Stepping up to the plate and dealing with adult things - now and all throughout my life - made me feel as though I grew up too fast, but I am thankful for the path that got me to where I am at now.




Nithyashri Eswaran, Mountain Vista HS

Nithyashri Eswaran, 
Mountain Vista High School

I will attend Columbia University

  • Planned a fundraiser in Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) with donations going to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation
  • Served 1,100+ hours to her community
  • Named a National AP Scholar


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Going to school and growing up in Douglas County has provided me many opportunities that have ultimately shaped me into the person I am today. Through my education and community, I have learned the importance of growth and improvement. I certainly feel confident, excited, and most importantly, prepared for the future and the challenges that come with it.




Kayla Fairweather, Ponderosa High School

Kayla Fairweather, 
Ponderosa High School

I will attend Colorado State University

  • Ran varsity cross country for four years and served as a captain her senior year
  • President of National Honor Society
  • Designed a horse jump that won first place for the Colorado Horse Park


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

During the last month, it has been challenging at times to stay motivated. For me, resiliency was more a matter of changing this mindset than anything else. Instead of looking at the things COVID-19 “took away” from my senior year, I sought out the opportunities it has given me. I have been able to continue to learn in my classes online simply for the sake of learning instead of for a grade. I think this is something I’ll carry with me through the rest of my life. In the face of these hardships, I watched community members come together while staying apart, finding innovative ways to do kind gestures. I personally have had the opportunity to write letters to residents at a local nursing home, giving me the chance to start a pen pal relationship with someone I would have otherwise never known. In the end, I think I’ll look back on this time as an enigma in my life that somehow brought about as much good as it did hardship. As far as readiness goes, I think I’ve learned how to be a lot more flexible. I’ve built upon different ways of initiating communication and bringing creativity to everyday tasks, which I think will help me immensely in my future. I realize now more than ever that all the knowledge in the world is meaningless unless I can be adaptable and open to change when it comes to the application of that knowledge. Entering college, I am ready to be flexible with the obstacles that I’ll undoubtedly face along the way.




Grant Ferry, Rock Canyon HS

Grant Ferry, 
Rock Canyon High School

I will attend the United States Air Force Academy

  • Earned Eagle Rank at the age of 16, then became Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 633, participated in the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE)
  • Accrued 2,500+ hours of community service during high school and earned two Gold President's Volunteer Service Awards - one by Guide Dogs for the Blind and the other by Stone Canyon Outdoor EdVentures.
  • National AP Scholar, enrolled in 16 AP classes throughout high school


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Though I was disappointed by the abrupt end to our senior year, my experiences in high school have taught me to face challenges head on, walking through them with the support of others. We must always look for opportunities that present themselves along the way.




Jenna Fitzsimmons, Mountain Vista HS

Jenna Fitzsimmons, 
Mountain Vista High School

I will attend Brigham Young University

  • 4.2 GPA
  • Named “Gatorade Runner of the Year”
  • Member of 2020 Wish Week, when MVHS granted more than 27 wishes


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

All throughout high school I have felt that our class is very unique. We are united by a special bond, and are dedicated to show our spirit in a new and over the top way. I was very disappointed by the thought of not finishing out the rest of our high school journey next to these amazing people. Something that surprised me about this experience is that I think this event actually brought our class even closer. Our class has stepped up in numerous ways, striving to make the end of our senior year a unique experience through social media sites and activities. While this may not have been the ‘perfect ending’ to the last four years, the Class of 2020 continues to amaze me with their positivity and ability to make the most out of every experience.




Amelia Greek, Castle View HS

Amelia Greek, 
Castle View High School

I will attend Creighton University

  • Received an academic letter all four years of high school
  • Rigorous schedule of classes - seven AP classes during junior and senior year with a 4.16 GPA
  • Varsity volleyball team member


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I am so excited to start the next chapter of my life. I think this time has made me more prepared for the future because it has taught me to be stronger and I also am more aware of who I am. When this is over, I will be ready for anything that life throws at me and I can't wait to see what's coming in the future.




Christopher Heckenkamp, Douglas County HS

Christopher Heckenkamp, 
Douglas County High School

I will attend Colorado College

  • DCSD Perseverance Scholarship recipient
  • Won DC Battle of the Bands junior and senior year
  • Named “Huskie of the Year” by DCHS staff


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Resilience and readiness are quiet qualities: they're forged in adversity, and permeate a person's life from then on. Because of this, we are the next greatest generation.




Shae Henley, ThunderRidge HS

Shae Henley, 
ThunderRidge High School

I will attend the University of Arizona

  • Colorado School of Mines Medal of Achievement in Math and Science winner
  • Named Continental League Athlete of the Month
  • School record holder in track and field for the 1600m and 3200m


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I think that our class will definitely be more resilient in the future; it’s terrible that we had to miss the last weeks of our senior year, but I think it’s also taught us that nothing should be taken for granted. No matter how much you can try to do something, or how hard you can work, it won’t always work out. A quote that I like is “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” (Jean-Luc Picard). Having a lot of our final events be canceled has been hard to deal with, but I think that it has been a wake up call in many ways; not only did it open my eyes to the fact that things can suddenly change, I feel that it was the first time that a lot of us were faced with something we could not work around. We do have online classes, but large events like senior prom and the moving-up ceremony were canceled, not to mention being able to say goodbye to our teachers and classmates. Going through all of this right now, knowing that usually we would be taking our finals, having our last ceremonies, and signing each others’ yearbooks is very difficult. It's easy to wonder what things would be like if there wasn’t a pandemic, but that isn’t the way things turned out. We only have what we’re given, and we have to make the most of it. I feel like this event has helped to prepare us for the inevitabilities of life in the future, and shown us how quickly life can change. I think we’re also more ready than past classes in that respect as well. Getting through this is difficult, but in one way or another, everyone, especially seniors, has adapted to this new way of life. I think it’s forced us to look around at how everyone else is adapting to this, and see how interconnected all of us really are. We’ve had to overcome more challenges as a class - both interpersonal and individual - than most senior classes have been faced with. Both school and the world have rapidly changed in the last few weeks, and by being forced to adapt to these challenges, I think that our class has become more resilient and ready for the next parts of our life.




Savanah Howard eDCSD

Savanah Howard, 
eDCSD

I will attend Metropolitan State University

  • Third-place winner in girls state wrestling
  • Four year letter winner in softball
  • Inducted into the 20 pin club at Mountain Vista High School


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I believe that the COVID-19 has made me prepare more now for the future if anything like this is to happen again.




Aiden Ingenthron, Castle View HS

Aiden Ingenthron, 
Castle View High School

I will attend Colorado College

  • First CVHS student to receive both the Boettcher Award and the Daniels Fund Scholarship
  • Achieved a perfect 36 on the ACT, maintains a 4.39 GPA, and is the top student in his class
  • Enrolled in 12 AP courses that span almost all disciplines - from AP U.S. Government to AP Literature, and from AP Physics to AP Studio Art

On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”
Resiliency is a critical skill to have, especially right now. The ability to push onward, even against adversity, stretches beyond academics and into life as a whole. However, 'resilient and ready' is only a fraction of who we are. It takes integrity to continue to do schoolwork from home, when no one is watching and when there is no penalty for slacking off. It takes a sense of self-worth and personal honor to hold oneself to a quality of work that represents who one is as a student, even when it isn't expected and an easy way out has been provided. It takes grit to push through and continue to push oneself through this time, to persevere through all the pitfalls and struggles of the stay-at-home school day. It takes compassion and a willingness to understand, to give second chances, in a time where nothing is certain and people are trying their hardest.




Emily Kaemmerling, Renaissance Secondary

Emily Kaemmerling, 
Renaissance Secondary

I will attend Montana State University

  • Sacrificed many parts of her senior year to endure four hip surgeries
  • Created a school-wide event called “Game Night”
  • First in her class


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Life is a crazy whirlwind. It will provide you with opportunities and take them away in the snap of a finger. This nontraditional ending to high school will help every graduate realize what is truly important to their individual identity and therefore help us hold on to who we are as we get thrown around in the world.




Scott Kennedy eDCSD

Scott Kennedy, 
eDCSD

I have signed with the New Hampshire Avalanche to pursue my dream of playing collegiate hockey

  • Earned several scholarships totaling $90,000+ per year and received acceptance letters and scholarships to 11 colleges
  • Organized a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society two weeks prior to his mother’s passing
  • Created a scholarship program for squirt and peewee goalies (ages 8-12) - stays in touch with kids who went through the program


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I feel that I have proven to be nothing but resilient and ready for life in the real world. I have had two internships at Kiewit Denver (civil engineering firm) and have proven that I am able to live on my own and succeed.




Caitlin Kim, Chaparral High School

Caitlin Kim, 
Chaparral High School

I will attend Colorado College

  • Varsity tennis player for three years
  • National Honor Society executive committee officer
  • Class Salutatorian


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

During this difficult and uncertain time of COVID-19, I have had to learn to grow in many ways - adapting to a new type of learning online, a new lifestyle, or even finding new ways to connect and keep in touch with friends, family, classmates, teachers, etc. It is through this hardship that I have grown both resilient and ready for all that the future holds. As I have learned to adapt, I have also grown in my capacity to have tenacity and perspective through trials in life. Because of this hard time, I have come out stronger than ever before, equipped with a renewed attitude of thankfulness for those around me and daily opportunities, as well as a new perspective that has made me ready for any challenge the future may hold. Being a part of the Class of 2020, I am resilient and ready because I know how to face a challenge, grow and learn from it, and overcome.




Addison Lederer Legend High School

Addison Lederer, 
Legend High School

I will attend Arapahoe Community College

  • DECA Community Service Officer
  • DECA state qualifier two years in a row
  • Perseverance Scholarship recipient


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

From the lessons I have learned being on my own, I have been taught how to be independent. I have experienced many situations and scenarios that don't go as planned. That's the thing about life. I guess you're always being challenged. You can plan and plan as much as you can and not everything will go the right way. In times of failure, I have learned how to succeed. You learn how to improvise, you learn how to handle being under pressure and to persevere through situations and issues. I've learned not to be afraid to fail, but to embrace the complications that arise. I am ready for this next chapter in my life because I know not everything will go as planned, but I know I will be ready to overcome those obstacles and challenges.




Krista Luttkus, Renaissance

Krista Luttkus, 
Renaissance Secondary

I will attend Cornell College

  • Advocate for disability rights and mental health supports in her school and community
  • Spoke with local legislative officials at Douglas County’s Youth Congress about issues including disability rights and mental health
  • After being the youngest attendee at the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C., she spoke with her state representatives about disability-related legislation


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

For me, "Resilient and Ready” is the perfect phrase to summarize my high school career and leading up to this moment of my graduation. During my freshman year, I was struggling with serious mental health issues due to family stress, combined with the challenge of starting high school. I struggled to manage my workload, get good grades, and be a supportive member of my family. I worked on my mental health a tremendous amount and stayed resilient. I pushed myself to get out into my community more through volunteer work, started disability advocacy, and I switched schools to a school that was willing to help me be my best self, both academically and emotionally, Renaissance Secondary School. I then started excelling at all my classes and felt even more empowered to do more volunteer and advocacy work. I know many other students at my school with similar stories. The best word to describe me and the rest of the Class of 2020 is resilient. Class of 2020 has overcome so much and this will be another challenge we all overcome. Class of 2020 is resilient! I feel I'm ready for whatever comes my way in my future because whatever is to come, I can handle it. I can look back and say “I survived my past” and I will keep pushing for the future. This is just a pause in the timeline that is life. I am ready for my next steps in my life and I know many other people in the Class of 2020 who feel the same way. The Class of 2020 is ready!




Sophia Mickus Highlands Ranch High School

 

Sophia Mickus, 
Highlands Ranch High School

I will attend Yale

  • National Merit Finalist, scored 36 on the ACT, and AP Scholar with Distinction
  • Chaired the annual "Penny Stalls" fundraiser committee, which raised $10,500 for Make-A-Wish Colorado during Highlands Ranch High School's 2019 Wish Week
  • Maintained straight A's with a rigorous course load while also being a competitive dancer and volunteering at Sky Ridge Medical Center


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

As much as I miss my friends, teachers, and the joy of being on campus, COVID-19 and remote learning has reinforced the need to be self-motivated which will prepare me for my future academic endeavors and career as a doctor. It is now up to me to continue to work hard and continue learning, preparing myself for upcoming AP exams, and college. I've learned to take life in strides and to focus on what I have going on in the moment, while working proactively and managing my time wisely.




Ethan Montgomery, STEM

 

Ethan Montgomery, 
STEM School

I will attend the University of Colorado Colorado Springs

  • Started a profitable business
  • Became an Eagle Scout
  • Won competitions in Technology Student Association, National History Day, and Future Business Leaders of America


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Someone once told me that "smooth waters don't make good sailors," and right now we are certainly not in smooth waters. I think that going through the challenges that the stay at home order has created will strengthen not only the Class of 2020, but all of the classes that have had to deal with these issues. This whole event was quite unexpected. I don't think anyone saw this coming, but the world is full of surprises. I think that by enduring, we are becoming more "Resilient and Ready."




Makenna Nystedt Legend High School

Makenna Nystedt, 
Legend High School

I will attend the University of Arizona

  • Received $318,000+ in scholarships
  • Recipient of the University of Colorado Boulder Outstanding Colorado Junior Award
  • Published three times by the America Library of Poetry


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

Resiliency is something that I believe everyone needs, in spite of whether or not there is a situation happening such as COVID-19. Throughout my life, I have had to deal with extremely hard situations, so I have learned to quickly recover and overcome obstacles. During this time, I have really reflected on how I am going to live my life after this pandemic is over. I am going to take this experience as an opportunity to see what is important to me and what I want out of life. Having this mindset will help me as I transition into college life because I will be able to focus on my priorities while also getting an education to set myself up for success.




Julia Ross, Rock Canyon High School

Julie Ross, 
Rock Canyon High School

I will attend United States Military Academy (West Point)

  • Math Student of the Year Jag Award recipient
  • Received highest honors and an academic letter every semester of high school
  • Captain of the RCHS cross-country and track teams


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

At first it was really tough for myself and all the other seniors I knew when the COVID-19 crisis hit, not only because we could no longer see each other, but also because it seemed like every single event we had been looking forward to for our entire lives had been suddenly taken away. It was overwhelmingly upsetting. But that didn't stop us, it simply gave us more time to prepare for the future. It gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and get ready for Cadet Basic Training. I accepted that I had no control over what had happened, so I had to adjust my overall attitude and look for the positives in the situation. Some of these included being able to sleep in, do school on my time, and do some of the things I'd always wanted to do but never had time to.




Grace Ryan, STEM School

Grace Ryan, 
STEM School

I will attend Sewanee, the University of the South

  • Full-time concurrent enrollment student at University of Colorado - Denver since sophomore year of high school
  • Perfect score on the ACT
  • Founder, captain, coach, and manager of the STEM School Climbing Club - avid and awarded mountain biker


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

I think that my peers and I have adapted to this shutdown as well as possible, but I think that our country and state's responses to this pandemic show a fundamental lack of resilience and readiness. In the short term, most students at STEM have wealthy parents with jobs that haven't been severely impacted. Our school community is fortunate enough to still have the basic necessities of shelter and food, allowing us to show our resilience when adapting to online learning and a life centered around our bedrooms, but this shutdown is strikingly unsustainable. While our country was unprepared for COVID-19, I am fortunate enough to be young, healthy, and optimistic. I'm still unsure of my future career plans, but I look forward to doing work that will help my community and my country be more resilient and ready next time. I deeply hope that we will recover from this pandemic in a way that makes us less vulnerable to the next crisis. The essence of resilience is growing stronger through adversity. The next months and years will be difficult. I'll look out for my neighbors, my community, and my country, and I hope to see the rest of the Class of 2020 doing the same.




Sarah Sams, DCHS

Sarah Sams, 
Douglas County High School

I will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • 4.4 GPA weighted
  • Selected to serve as a tutor for resource classes
  • Named Huskie Sophomore of the Year


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

The Class of 2020 has lost what is often considered by others to be the best part of our entire lives. I'm inspired by my peers' determination that this will not be so. We shall continue striving to live every part of our life better than the last.




Maddyson Stadler, ThunderRidge HS

Maddyson Stadler, 
ThunderRidge High School

I will attend Colorado Mountain College

  • State and district award winner for a newspaper story
  • Advocated for herself to be taken off her IEP
  • Completed high school with a higher GPA than her goal GPA


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

The events that have happened my senior year have taught me how to be flexible when faced with change. This new found skill will carry into my personal and professional life moving forward. It has taught me that sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and that we have to make sacrifices in the way we do things. The graduating class of 2020 will be remembered as strong and resilient because we were forced to accept the changes of what should have been a year of celebrating our accomplishments.




Melanie Zhou, ThunderRidge HS

Melanie Zhou, 
ThunderRidge High School

I will attend Stanford University

  • Co-Founder of non-profit Oasis Mental Health
  • 2019 Governor’s Service Award for Outstanding Teen Volunteer recipient
  • Won the 2019 Denver Start-Up Week $100,000 prize


On the DCSD Class of 2020 being “Resilient and Ready”

In an unprecedented time like this, it is challenging to be a high school senior. Many of our momentous rites of passage have been taken away. Some of us face financial instability and food insecurity before leaving for college. On some days, it feels absolutely devastating. Yet, I remind myself that this global health crisis has made all of us survivors. This year’s high school seniors are more independent, self-reflective, and persistent than any group before. None of us will take for granted again a moment spent with friends or time spent with family. I truly believe our unique appreciation for the present and thoughtfulness for the community will change the world positively as we become the next generation of leaders. In the next chapter of my life, I know I will be able to look back and say “Resiliency was not easy. Readiness was not easy. But I did that. WE did that.”


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