18 graduates join ASPIRE alum

ASPIRE Valedictorian Antoinette Alvarado walks to her seat on the stage at TJ's Corral on Friday.

ASPIRE Valedictorian Antoinette Alvarado walks to her seat on the stage at TJ's Corral on Friday.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.


While only a fraction of the number of graduates who’ll receive diplomas this June, the 18 members of the ASPIRE Class of 2021 showed heart enough for 10 times their number.

“I think our school student body did a fantastic job on our mission statement, but I don’t think you can fully sum up ASPIRE in once sentence,” Valedictorian Antoinette Alvarado told her class. “ASPIRE is not just a place where people can learn, it’s a place where people can learn to grow to being their best selves, if they choose to invest. That’s what you have to do — invest. Take a chance and let these people mold you into the person who knows what hard work looks like and what a giving attitude should feel like.”

Alvarado said she came to the school to hang out with her friends and graduate early.

“I know in my heart, I would not have graduated high school without the support and love of my ASPIRE family,” she said.

Fourth-generation Carson Valley resident Ryan Herbig was the class salutatorian.

“When I came to this school four years ago, I met many people who had been through challenges like no other,” Herbig said. Many of us thought we’d never graduate. However, through hard work and perseverance, we achieved something extraordinary. I’m excited to see what my peers accomplish.”

Hope Smith, who decorated her mortarboard with the slogan “Next stop, nursing school” said that there were many times when she was ready to give up.

“Don’t get me wrong, I despised every step of the way,” she said. “But being at the end of this very dark tunnel is one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt. School was a pain for me, but it helped me learn a lot more about myself. If I can do it, so can you.”

The Aspire graduation ceremony was conducted in TJ’s Corral. Douglas County School Superintendent Keith Lewis gave the keynote address.

School board trustees Linda Gilkerson, Carey Kangas and Heather Jackson were in attendance.

Alvarado, Smith, Mikias Broersma, Alana Crockett and Haiden Sneed each received Dean Seeman and Keith Byer scholarships.

ASPIRE is an independent, alternative high school; offering another public high school option to students who live in Douglas County. It stands for All Students Pursuing Integrity, Responsibility and Education with an enrollment of 90.


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