SHERIDAN — “This is an impressive class in more ways than one,” Fort Mackenzie High School counselor Sally Stults said about the graduating class of 2013.
Ten FMHS seniors will graduate today at 1 p.m. at the Early Building Auditorium.
Among this year’s graduates is Rhyan Gessner, valedictorian and the school’s first recipient of a Daniels Fund Scholarship.
“He is a pretty impressive young man,” Stults said, noting that Gessner is graduating a year ahead of schedule. “He did receive a Daniels Fund Scholarship and he is our first from Fort Mackenzie ever and we are excited about it.”
“It is based on character, leadership, service and strong academic record,” she explained. “It was created by Bill Daniels and they select applicants from four states, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Each year they have roughly 250 slots, but there are thousands and thousands of applicants. It is a pretty rigorous process. We’ve had several strong applicants in the past but this is our first recipient and I am so proud of Rhyan.”
Stults said the scholarship is quite lucrative, paying for expenses to any U.S. college of the recipient’s choice. The scholarship covers any costs not covered by financial aid or other scholarships and will also provide money for textbooks and computers that are needed by students.
Robert Benson is this year’s salutatorian.
“Robert has strong academics and is fantastically talented,” Stults said, adding that Benson has served on the student council, serves in a group that mentors new students and has been active in school and community activities.
Stults said Caleb Ostheimer, who was a close contender for salutatorian, has received a scholarship from the Grateful Hearts Foundation — a local, anonymous charitable organization. He received a full tuition and equipment scholarship to Colorado Christian University where he will receive a minor in wilderness leadership and become a certified Wilderness First Responder. The value of the scholarship is approximately $14,500.
Stults also noted that eight of the 10 graduates have met the requirements for a Hathaway Scholarship.
The school’s principal Laurien Rahimi will be the speaker for the graduation ceremony. Her theme is “Embracing Change” which applies to her as well as the graduating seniors. Rahimi is retiring from FMHS this year and will be teaching at an elementary school in SCSD 2 next year.
“The thing I like about our graduation is that it is really personal,” Stults said, noting that each student is presented a “goodie” bag during the ceremony and that their homeroom teacher presents a short synopsis about them. “Part of it is our (small) size but more than that is our philosophy that we make it personal and really focus on the men and women that are graduating.”