Peak School in Frisco awards diplomas to first graduating class
May 25, 2017
Marking a milestone of monumental proportion for The Peak School, six students became the first-ever graduating class Thursday at the small private school in Frisco that started six years ago. The school now boasts just over 70 students enrolled.
The graduation ceremony was held at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge, and, with founding members in the audience, it featured two keynote speakers, Dana Karin and Drew Mikita. Based on the attendance, few people would have guessed that only six students were about to receive their diplomas.
Mikita serves as an associate professor of psychology at CMC and as an adjunct teacher at The Peak, while Karin is one of the founding teachers at the school who came back for the ceremony. Students agreed that both educators are the kind of teachers that students love, and administrators said it was for that reason they were asked to speak at the ceremony.
Each got their fair share of hugs before it began, and the significance of the moment wasn't lost on either of them.
"It's a celebration of you, our first graduating class," Karin told the class as she asked the crowd to give them another round of applause and offered up one last round of sage-like advice.
Later, Mikita told a story about one of the graduating seniors, Jared Lincenberg, who came to class one day wearing a cardigan.
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Mikita said he loved the sweater, but at another school, it's the kind of thing that could elicit teasing from his peers. Not at the The Peak School, though, Mikita said, as all it took was one compliment from him before the rest of the class noticed the cardigan quickly followed suit with even more cardigan compliments.
Mikita described it as a genuine moment, or one big hug, and that's what life at The Peak School is like, he said, "it just felt like being in a classroom hug. When you're around the students and the people there, it's like a big hug of learning — and it's awesome."
During the ceremony, the six about-to-be graduates — Kira Benson, Selah Kreeger, Grant Morgan, Tye Brown-Wolf, Arel Svenson and Lincenberg — were all introduced by their advisors, one for each graduate. With only six students, praising each one was possible, and as one of the advisors said, it really wasn't all that hard bathing them in praise either.
One of the graduation requirements at the school, much like most major universities, involves the students taking on a capstone project. Through the advisors' remarks, the diversity of the projects highlighted Thursday was matched only by the diversity of the students, all of whom are amazing young individuals in their own right.
In fact, three have already been featured this year in the Summit Daily News — Brown-Wolf for being one of two students selected from across Colorado to participate in the Youth Senate Leadership Program in Washington, D.C.; Selah Kreeger for writing, producing and directing her own play; and Grant Morgan, who aced 17 Advanced Placement tests throughout his high school career and composed his own sonata.
For his capstone project, Svenson produced an outdoor action film that coupled his peers' skiing and snowboarding stunts with a narrative about overcoming fear. He plans to attend Isaacson School of New Media at the Spring Valley Campus of Colorado Mountain College.
Meanwhile, Lincenberg undertook a city planning study within a framework of Summit County's growth, and he used new software to map the region while authoring a paper about the cultural and historical aspects of city planning. He plans to go to the Colorado School of Mines and study computer science.
Last but not least and famous for her cowboy boots, Benson isn't just a good dresser. She's also a country music songwriter and performer, and for her project, she put out her second country music album, a 12-track ensemble titled "Revolution." She is headed to Evergreen State in Olympia, Washington.
As for the rest of the class, Morgan graduated a year early and plans on taking a "gap year." He had designs on China, but his mother said Thursday that's changed and her son is now headed to Patagonia, Chile.
The thespian of the group, Kreeger plans to attend Eugene Lang College, The New School, in New York, and Brown-Wolf will be at William and Mary College in Virginia for the next two years before taking advantage of a program that will let him study for two years at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He plans to go into economics.
"I can tell you now these students can perform at any college," Mikita said as he spoke about initial fears the education would be too abstract or too non-traditional when the school first got started. "They blew my expectations out of the water."
Now, they're graduates and ambassadors for school.