Missy Martin 2019 Scholars

Missy Martin 2019 Scholars: Where Positivity Creates Positives and Seniors Conquer Hardship
Posted on 05/23/2019
When a Union Pacific train collided with Missy Martin Berg's stalled car in November 2002, the shock and trauma of the accident rippled throughout the district. Despite the following hospitalization, coma, and life-long health effects, Missy still graduated from Douglas County High School and transformed tragedy into triumph. In the wake of her accident, Missy founded the charitable organization Future Hope Foundation, which awarded its first scholarship to a single Douglas County High School senior in 2008.

It might be 16 years since Missy's accident, but her determination to help others and her unfailing optimMissy Martin Bergism in the face of adversity can still be seen in the 2019's scholarship recipients chosen by the charitable organization she founded in the wake of her accident: the Future Hope Foundation.

She says the accident "didn't just impact me and Douglas County and Castle Rock, it impacted everybody.We even got letters from New York! We wanted to raise it, grow this up, give back, and help more people." Since its inception in2008, the Future Hope Foundation has awarded $50,000 in scholarships to high school seniors across Douglas County. Each Missy Martin Scholarship is meant to help with the unforeseen and to recognize students who faced adversity and still thrived academically and in their communities.

"When somebody asks me about Missy… the first word that comes to mind is 'hero.' She's my hero,'" Douglas County High School Principal Tony Kappas said, as he opened the scholarship ceremony. "Here is an individual that has persevered, who is tenacious, who is driven, who has the heart and soul of an angel."

On the morning of Tuesday, May 7, Douglas County School District honored five high school seniors who overcame insurmountable challenges to enrich and improve the world around them:
  • Tyler Dice -- Castle View High School
  • Mitchell Lukes -- Ponderosa High School
  • Avery Crowell -- ThunderRidge High School
  • Lilian Burrup -- Mountain Vista High School
  • Clara Papula -- Douglas County High School

Inspiring and Enriching the People Around Them
When Dr. Rex Corr introduced Tyler Dice, he praised the Castle View High School senior for "[taking] on challenges with optimism and determination," while forming engaging and connected relationships with staff and students. Diagnosed with schizophrenia his freshman year and despite missing many school days, Tyler made a positive impression on his peers and teachers, especially with his affinity for IT and the box of electronics he carried from class to class. Ryan McClintock, Tyler's former teacher and now school Dean, called him a "gentle intellectual giant" and Heather Golden, a Counselor at Castle View High School, commented that he has "the greatest smile in the world."

Tyler says he wanted to prove that "he could do it," and that other students struggling with mental health should keep in mind that "recovery is possible, even if it doesn't seem possible."

Mitchell Lukes, Principal OttmannMitchell Lukes, already a 2019 Administrator Scholarship recipient, will share his story as a speaker with his Ponderosa High School graduating class at EchoPark Stadium in Parker. While mountain biking in Canada last September, Mitchell plummeted down the mountainside after a missed jump. The harrowing accident left him with severe injuries, which left him hospitalized him for three months. His family even transplanted to Canada for his month of ICU treatment, staying in hostels and with acquaintances.

"He looks very normal, right?" Principal Tim Ottmann asked, stressing: "But the past eight months have been very difficult. We're happy to say that Mitch has overcome so much… [and] the teachers rallied at Ponderosa along with the nurses, and the administration, and he's actually going to be able to graduate with his class."

"The thing I admire most about Mitch is he's just a nice person. He's respectful, he's humble, and he's wanting to give back and share those things where people can understand what he went through and [to give] the inspiration," Ottmann says.

Mitchell will pursue a degree in Business Management at Montana State University, building on his experience as the owner of Mitch's Mowing with 12 employees and over $25,000 grossed in the summer of 2018.


Achieving Goals with Determination and Grit
For Mountain Vista High School senior Lilian Burrup, her "friends and [her] determination to get to college helped [her] get out of bed on my worst days."

After facing her mother's cancer diagnosis, the deaths of several close family members, and her own medical challenges, Lilian still participated in a wide variety of school activities and honors societies while maintaining good grades. Choir, French Honor Society, Speech and Debate, GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) club, and Tri M National Music Honor Society were only a few of Lilian's involvements. She even volunteered at the Denver Museum of Natural History for two years in their Summer Camps and Discovery Zone and with the Douglas County Public Library's Reading Buddies program.

Above all, Lilian reminds her classmates that "high school is not as important as taking care of yourself and your family."
There are bigger goals on the horizon. Lilian will pursue at Penn State University in the Fall, where she will take her resiliency and kindness to study accounting.


Enduring and Prospering with Courageous Optimism
When her mom passed away her Junior year, Avery Crowell boarded a plane that took the ThunderRidge High School cheerleadingAvery Cowell, Kambi Crabb team to championships at national and international levels.

In the face of three additional deaths at the school, Avery "fought with her team...and fought for herself" to continue moving forward with "decorum and grace," as Counselor Kambi Crabb described.

Avery says her friends and family keep her going, that she always told herself that things were going to get better. She'll have the opportunity to make things better for a lot of people as she goes on to study Elementary Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

When Clara Papula summited the top of Rock Park on the morning of Senior Sunrise, her philosophy to "try her very best even when things are hard" proved its value. From the beginning, life was hard for Clara. Her premature birth as a triplet contributed to severe medical conditions, including Cerebral Palsy. Douglas County High School Counselor Amy Boyce explained with pride how Clara began elementary school as a severe special needs student and by high school only required mobility accommodations.

An avid actress, Clara gave a chilling performance in the high school's theatre production of Sweeney Todd and will pursue acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. Even though academies in New York City turned down her applications, Clara's perseverance and positive ethos will continue to help her challenge limitations.

In his closing remarks, Executive Director of Schools Corey Wise said, "As I look at the students and listen, I'm humbled and amazed. When I watch some of the parents, I'm even just as much touched and humbled and amazed."

Addressing the students, Corey continued: "Each of you could have been recognized in your school, but you wouldn't have had the chance to hear about others and to learn about what other people have and what they give, not the struggles they go through, but the things we accomplish."

For the 2019 Missy Martin Scholars, their stories of struggle and triumph, family and community, will continue to inspire Douglas County students in the toughest of times. Or, as Principal Kappas said of Missy: "when other people said, 'You can't,' -- you did."
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