Meet 5 graduating Summit County seniors who embody the school district’s graduate profile
Curious, courageous, prepared, growth-oriented and globally aware are the hallmarks of the district’s graduating class. These students exemplified those traits during their time at Summit High School.
To prepare students for a post-high school future, Summit School District challenges its classes to be curious, courageous, prepared, growth-oriented and globally aware by the time they reach graduation.
These are the pillars for what the district calls its graduate profile, which aims to provide a roadmap for student success.
As the 2023 graduating class for Summit High School celebrates a long, four-year journey — one mired by a pandemic and riddled with upheaval — these five students demonstrated each of the district’s graduate profile traits in ways large and small.
Curious: Katherine Costello
As defined by the district’s graduate profile, this is a student who asks questions, thinks critically and solves problems using a variety of strategies
By the end of her junior year of high school, Katherine Costello still didn’t know what she wanted to do.
“Everyone knew where they were going to college, what they wanted to do, and I had no idea,” Costello said.
During the initial weeks of her senior year, Costello said a friend asked her to go to a meeting for the school’s tech club, an invitation Costello said was partially a joke.
But Costello showed up. She was one of only two girls out of more than a dozen students at the meeting, which she called a bit “nerve-wracking.”
From building robots to creating fashion designs, Costello said club members were granted free rein to pursue a slew of projects. Though Costello was unsure of how she felt about the club at first, she soon found herself coming back each week for meetings. And she noticed no one was working on an architect-based project.
“I found architecture to be inspiring,” Costello said. “I love math, and I love science. That’s where my brain sits. Every day was a new day. Every day I added a little bit more of creativity … and that’s what I really loved about it.”
Costello’s design task: craft a model of an assisted living facility that could house 50 people.
For two hours each Tuesday, Costello spent eight months over her senior year working on the project. Costello said she benefited from having a great mentor in the club’s leader, Summit High teacher Rick Karden, who she said “put in a lot of time to help me.”
Karden granted Costello considerable creative latitude, allowing her curiosity to take hold as she added her own features, including a swimming pool, game room and library.
Costello first created a digital version before printing out and building by hand a 3D model. She went on to win a first-place award for her project during a statewide Technology Student Association competition, beating out about 50 other people in the architectural design category.
The association — a national organization aimed at promoting students’ skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — hosts competitions across the country.
“It was motivating to see that I do actually have a passion for architecture, and, if I work hard enough, I can do good things with it,” Costello said.
Costello will be attending New York University in the fall to study urban design and architecture with a focus on air quality and environmental sustainability. She said she hopes to work on commercial buildings for a career.
For Costello, joining the tech club allowed her to transform her passions and find her calling.
“I think, if I wasn’t curious, I wouldn’t have joined the tech club,” Costello said. “Without curiosity, you kind of limit yourself to opportunities.”
Courageous: Liam Macreery
As defined by the district’s graduate profile, this is a student who takes informed risks, perseveres through challenges and advocates for the needs of themselves and others
For Liam Macreery, much of his high school experience has been defined by his work with the Student Equity Alliance — a student organization that aims to support and advocate for marginalized voices, particularly those in the LGBTQ community.
“A lot of my struggles in early high school were figuring out my identity and dealing with people being teenagers, who can be pretty terrible,” Macreery said. “It was such a great resource for me to have that club and being something I could lean on.”
Macreery said the organization was a place where people genuinely cared about him — not because of what he did or how popular he was, but because he was himself.
“Finding that sense of community was completely and totally pivotal,” Macreery said.
From support came advocacy, with Macreery helping to lead conversations in the high school around gender inclusivity and LGBTQ representation, something he said was desperately needed. He recalls one freshman year health class where the only reference to gay men was in the context of the AIDS epidemic, for example.
Macreery’s work manifested during late-night meetings when he would speak before the Summit Board of Education. He and the equity alliance worked with the board to pass efforts such as a resolution by the board that reaffirmed, in part, its commitment to LGBTQ inclusivity in its curriculum and classrooms.
Though some meetings became heated, as some community members spoke out against the board’s actions on LGBTQ inclusion, Macreery said he learned to drown out the noise and focus on what he believed in.
“As a 17-year-old, it’s not a very common experience to have a room of adults staring at you and having that feeling on the back of your neck of flight or flight,” Macreery said.
But Macreery said it’s important for students to find their voice, especially in a room where it’s usually just the adults talking.
“A lot of kids have this sense of, ‘Well, I don’t have any say in any part of my life, so why would this be any different,'” Macreery said. “Letting kids know that they have the ability to change things is pivotal.”
As Macreery prepares to leave the United States to attend a university in Amsterdam to pursue his love for creative writing, he said he’s leaving the school district in a better place.
“The district can always be more equitable. There’s always ways to better the playing field,” Macreery said. “(But) the school and the district as a whole are in a better place because of some of the policies and equity policies that the district has passed.”
Prepared: Autumn Rivera
As defined by the district’s graduate profile, this is a student who is academically prepared, socially and emotionally intelligent and academically ready
For much of high school, Autumn Rivera has had a plan.
With a love for basketball and ambitious career goals, Rivera honed her schooling through meticulous and intentional decisions.
She rose through the ranks to become captain of her basketball team, took the most rigorous classes she could find and spent a grueling amount of time looking for her dream school, which she found in The University of Chicago.
“I knew that that’s where I wanted to go,” Rivera said.
This fall, Rivera will be attending on a full-ride scholarship to cover her $85,000 annual tuition, something she said she’s still coming to grasp with.
“It’s been really surreal,” Rivera said. “I remember getting (the scholarship) and being stopped in my tracks … it’s a moment where you don’t want to believe it at first.
But Rivera said she couldn’t have done it alone. She leaned on friends, family, counselors and teachers as she pursued college applications. But she also didn’t wait until the last minute. She filed for an early decision so she could be as ahead of the curb as possible.
And while Rivera became laser-focused on her goals throughout high school, she said her experience was not without its struggles.
Rivera remembers feeling nervous at the beginning of her freshman year as she navigated a “totally different place, totally different atmosphere” just before the pandemic hit.
“COVID was a really huge deal — especially for our class, which dealt with before, during and after,” Rivera said.
Rivera said he biggest learning moment of the past four years was “realizing who I wanted to be and the kind of person and the kind of people I want to be around.”
While Rivera said it can pay off to have a plan and be prepared, it’s also important to not “necessarily worry about the end goal but do things that you know are going to set you up for success.”
And that will come even for those who don’t get into their initial first-choice college, Rivera said, who added, “Everything happens for a reason, and you’re going to be successful no matter where you end up going.”
Growth-oriented: Maggie Fisk
As defined by the district’s graduate profile, this is a student who remains flexible and open to possibilities, can adapt to changing circumstances and pursues their passions.
Going into her freshman year of high school, Maggie Fisk described herself as a “pretty shy kid” but one who was “anxious for something new — something to challenge me a bit.”
Whether she liked it or not, it didn’t take long for Fisk to find what she was looking for.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced learning to move online, it also did so for Fisk’s extracurricular theater classes. The experience initially proved challenging. Fisk said, “A lot of acting is showing up and being there so people can critique you … but we were deprived from those experiences a little bit.”
In the spring of her freshman year, Fisk was supposed to perform for a school production of “Legally Blonde,” but that of course was canceled. But Fisk soon adapted and, as classes moved to a hybrid setting, she was able to practice theater alongside her peers during socially-distanced rehearsals.
During her sophomore year, the theater group released a recorded performance as opposed to acting before a live audience. Fisk said she found the experience insightful, “similar to what I imagine it would be like on a film set,” she said.
Being an actor often demands adaptability and creativity, and Fisk said her experience with school theater amid a pandemic certainly gave her that. Now, she’s preparing to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, something that also prompted Fisk’s ingenuity.
As she applied to schools, Fisk tried her best to attend in-person acting auditions. But sometimes, she needed to send in a recording.
“It’s a very different experience having someone in front of you that you can talk to and know you made an impact,” Fisk said. “I spent a lot of time in my house with a backdrop hung on a ring light recording auditions over and over again.”
Along with acting in school plays, Fisk also performed as a member of the Breckenridge Backstage Theater. As she looks to the next phase of her career, Fisk said her biggest goal is maintaining her passion.
“As much as Summit County has kicked me off on this journey, there are very little opportunities here for different types of acting,” Fisk said. “The only thing that I could ask for is being able to support a career in acting. It’s a very, very unpredictable path.”
For Fisk, acting is a way to connect with and embody the human experience.
“It’s just such a beautiful opportunity to share stories with people. To impact them, to change their view on life, to give them an opportunity to empathize with people who have different lives,” she said. “It allows people to be kinder to others and feel what others feel on a deeper level, and I’m just always happy to have a say in that.”
Globally aware: Anna Gledhill
As defined by the district’s graduate profile, this is a student who participates in local and global communities, embraces different cultures, welcomes the perspectives of others and communicates effectively across lines of difference
Anna Gledhill is ready for her next adventure.
The graduating Summit High School senior said she’ll be taking a gap year before college, affording her the opportunity to travel to three countries in Central America. Gledhill said it’s an experience she’s been craving for years and one she’s been prepared for.
“I’ve been waiting to get out and travel and see the world and have some experiences before starting college,” Gledhill said. “My parents have always been big travelers, and they wanted us to have similar experiences.”
When Gledhill was in fourth grade, she moved with her parents to Costa Rica where she lived for five months. During that time, Gledhill said she was homeschooled and became involved with the local community, from building friendships to volunteering at organizations.
For Gledhill, one of the most challenging aspects of living abroad was putting her Spanish to the test. Gledhill had been receiving ample exposure to Spanish lessons during her time as a student at Dillon Valley Elementary School — a dual-language school that evenly splits its time teaching classes in Spanish and English.
When she moved to Costa Rica, Gledhill said building relationships with native speakers of a different language proved to be extra work. But Gledhill said she found it rewarding.
“Being able to talk to people and see their different perspectives and their point of view on life from a different country is really amazing,” Gledhill said.
After returning to Summit County, Gledhill continued to hone her Spanish through the dual-language programs offered at Summit Middle and High School.
And building on her bilingual skills is just one of the goals that Gledhill has set for herself as she prepares to embark on her travels, which will begin this fall and end next summer.
During that time, Gledhill will visit iconic sites such as Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands while gaining college credit through coursework. She’ll work on a school resource program in Costa Rica, helping to identify and provide school supplies for local residents. And she’ll pursue internships in Ecuador. She is currently debating between one in graphic design and another in environmental architecture.
The latter is what Gledhill may pursue as a college major when she returns next year to attend the University of Colorado Boulder. While Gledhill said she knows her immediate future is less conventional than many of her graduating peers, she knows it will set her up for success in her future.
“Seeing everybody going off to college, it’s kind of hard to know that’s not the path I’m taking. But I’ve always known this is what I need to do,” Gledhill said. “The idea is really to challenge myself. I want to find out what I’m interested in.”
In the United States, there’s “a lot of fear built up” around traveling, Gledhill said. “And traveling to go to a resort versus immersing yourself in the culture are definitely two different things,” she added.
But seeing a new culture, a new community and a new way of life is something Gledhill said everyone should do.
“It will be challenging,” she said. “But being thrown into situations like that is definitely where you’ll grow.”
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