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Students share stories of survival at Parents' Council

“I will carry that experience for the rest of my life, but I won’t let it define me.” Aurora Theater shooting survivor Katie Terrezas Mier.

“When faced with crisis, I chose to stay positive.” Alex Khalady, who saved his mother when she attempted suicide, even though she had abused him.

 “I am strong, wise, thankful and ready for the world.” Tyler Allen, who has overcome the stereotypes of a being a fatherless child and an African-American woman.


These powerful, inspirational words were shared by fourteen high school seniors during the April Parents' Council meeting. Many people in the audience were brought to tears as the students shared stories of survival and perseverance. Most have experienced unimaginable hurt and heartbreak, some from the very first day of their lives.

“I was a crack baby,” said Reid Howard, whose mother was a long-time drug addict and whose father spent much of his childhood in prison.

“Every day was a struggle,” said Tyler Allen, who lived in five different homes during her childhood. “I hated leaving school because it meant I had to go home to a home I didn’t want to inhabit.”

Some of the students grew up in broken homes where they were abused or neglected. Others, like Tesfai Holt, lost a beloved parent or stepparent much too soon.

“My mother died in 2006. I was 12,” said Holt. “At that moment, I decided I wouldn’t let my mom’s work go to waste.”

Charley Hatcher lost her mother to cancer during sophomore year, while her best friend, Jordan Rodgers, lost her father (Colorado Lt. Governor Joe Rodgers) last November.

“My dad taught me to keep the dream alive,” said Rodgers.

Many of the students found solace and support at school, in the form of friends, teachers, coaches, counselors, athletics and activities. That helped some of the students through their own life-threatening health challenges.

“The staff and students were like family to me. I never felt different,” said Cayla Phythian, who has been battling a rare degenerative disease called Morquio Syndrome since kindergarten. “I have learned how important it is to not give up and to persevere.”

Rhiannon McCarter didn’t find out she had Ewing’s Sarcoma until December of her junior year.

“It didn’t seem real at first,” she said. “I didn’t think something like this could happen to me.”

Despite missing a semester of school, McCarter , who is now cancer-free, will graduate on time next month, with the  and the rest of the Class of 2014.

The Cherry Creek Schools District congratulates all of these remarkable, resilient students, and wishes them continued success as they begin their college careers!

Cherokee Trail High School:

•    Charley Hatcher – Nursing, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

•    Jordan Rodgers – Biochemistry, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska
Cherry Creek High School:

•    Reid Howard – Business, University of Colorado at Boulder

•    Rhiannon McCarter – Business, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Eaglecrest High School:

•    Cayla Phythian – Pitkins Technical College, Aurora, Colorado

•    Alyssa Lindsey – University of Northern Colorado, Greeley

Endeavor Academy:

•    Michael Schonebaum – Business and Entrepreneurship, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction

•    Katie Terrezas Mier – Community College of Aurora/Metropolitan State University, Denver
Grandview High School:

•    Quincy Reese – Psychology, Community College of Aurora

•    Alex Khalady – Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder

Overland High School:

•    Brady Lee – Fashion Design, Metropolitan State University/Colorado State University

•    Tyler Allen – Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence
Smoky Hill High School:

•    Sierra Smith – Criminology or Audio Production, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, or University of Colorado at Boulder

•    Tesfai Holt – Music, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction


Posted April 21, 2014.

Posted 4/21/2014 11:03 AM
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