Crestone Charter grads embody dedication and kindness


Photos by John Waters Crestone Charter School graduate Haley VanWalleghan (center) receives her high school diploma on May 17. From left to right are Coach Mike Roberts, Jane Elliot, Robin Chestnut, Sam Goering, and Thomas Cleary. Crestone Charter School graduate Ziah Knight Pesqueira receives his high school diploma on May 17.

CRESTIONE — Before an audience of about 70 friends and family on May 17, Crestone Charter School graduates Kaley VanWalleghan, and Ziah Knight Pesqueira received their high school diplomas.

The ceremony began with remarks by school director Thomas Cleary, who spoke about "Haters Gonna Hate."

"The term has staying power and that is why I'm using it and as a graduate, you will need to continue to have staying power as you travel on your journey in life...when confronted, you need to not to be flippant, you will need to show caring when confronted by challenges in life. My speech is not about not caring, it is about deeply caring, about doing your best and not worrying about what other people are thinking to the degree that it paralyzes you," Cleary said.

The ceremony continued with Eden Elderberry with the school Governing Council who offered, "Ziah, you are a light of familiarity and have been a fixture in our town and embody the spirit of Crestone through your dedication and genuine kindness."

Elderberry continued, "Haley brings a wealth of experience from her adventures beyond our sleepy town enriching our community with bravery and resilience."

The graduates then strolled through the audience handing out flowers to, "people who have been close to them, and helped nurture their growth over the years," The two graduates then gave out roses to those of their choice.

Music including, "Fade Into You," was performed by Phoebe Tieder and Kristen Gushurst, and "Flower of the Universe," was performed by Aurora Knight-Pesqueira and Jacob Pesqueira.

Math teacher Robin Chestnut praised Haley's stunning homework as "the most beautiful I've ever seen. This may seem like hyperbole, but as someone who taught college math for seven years, I mean it. Your homework assignments are works of art."

"Ziah, you describe yourself as shy, but in all the ways that matter, you always jump in and help. I see you transmit this attitude to other students," said Chestnut.

Sam Goering, who teaches language arts and social studies presented the diplomas and Cleary honored the graduates with the moving of the tassel.

After the formal ceremonies, all were treated to a late-afternoon luncheon.

The school was founded in 1996 and in 2012 moved into its current facility and is part of the Moffat Consolidated School District No. 2. The school has 92 students.

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that have the flexibility to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and self-governing, and yet are held accountable for student and operational performance.