Parents, friends and other family members packed the Blue Peak High School gym on Monday night as the school graduated 28 students.
Chairs on the floor and the bleachers were full as the graduates marched into the gym with a quick pace, one at a time, to the start the ceremony.
Molly Downard, student speaker, told about her life choices that brought her to Blue Peak High School, Tooele County School District’s alternative high school.
“When I was little, I loved school and did well,” Downard said.
She said her parents divorced when she was 10 years old and that experience left a negative impact on her life.
Battling with her dad and his new family, while coping with the transition to junior high school, was difficult, according to Downard. Then a struggle with drugs, depression and anxiety ended up with her spending time in a hospital, she said.
When she started at Blue Peak High, she still had friends that weren’t the best influence and didn’t do to well, Downard said.
Eventually, with the support of her boyfriend, mother, sister and the staff at Blue Peak High, Downard said she was able to move forward.
“There were setbacks and challenges,” she said. “But I decided I wanted a better future.”
Downard urged her classmates to continue their forward momentum.
“Just keep on pushing,” she said. “Whether it’s for family, friends, passion, or love. If we push ourselves, we will see what our future holds.”
Ethan Estrada, a student speaker, said even in elementary school he always found a reason to get of going to class.
“I used humor,” he said. “I made my friends and classmates laugh until I got kicked out.”
Estrada said he came to Blue Peak High School his sophomore year and found he could connect with his teachers through humor.
“The teachers at Blue Peak care about us and want to be at school,” he said. “They laughed with us.”
Estrada told the graduates to use humor as a survival tool.
“Keep a positive attitude,” he said. “And use humor when in difficult situations.”
Chad Hymas was the guest speaker for the graduation. In 2001, at the age of 27, Hymas’ life changed in an instant when a 2,000-pound bale of hay shattered his neck, leaving him a quadriplegic.
Hymas noted that the Blue Peak graduates were born in the same year as the accident that changed his life.
“Don’t think inside the box,” Hymas said. “Don’t just throw the box outside the window. Get rid of the box altogether.”
As quadriplegic, Hymas said he is able to travel the world by himself.
“I’m 95% numb,” he said. “But I have played soccer in 89 countries around the world.”
Before officially presenting the graduating senior class, Principal Kendall Topham offered three pieces of final advice to the graduates.
“Take time to enjoy the journey of life and celebrate your successes along the way, starting with your graduation from high school. … Serve others by being a contributor to society. … Encourage discovery in life and seize the moments before you,” he said.
Blue Peak High School is Tooele County School District’s alternative high school. It is located at the school district’s Community Learning Center in Tooele City.
Blue Peak’s students are referred to the school by counselors at other high schools in Tooele Valley because the students are severely short of expected credits, putting timely graduation at risk, according to school district officials.