2005 grads share hopes, memories

By Jonathan Cooper

“I’m really going to miss a lot of my friends next year,” said Corona del Sol senior Andrew Parady. “I’m going to NAU next year, and most of my friends are staying in town for college.”

Like Parady, hundreds of Kyrene Corridor students graduated from area high schools Wednesday with mixed emotions, but with optimism for the future. They now prepare to leave the controlled routine of high school and enter the uncertain reality of life, and the increasingly changing world they face ahead; a world molded by the terrorism and war that struck just as they entered high school four years ago.

Indeed, the environment in which these students grew up was vastly different form that of their parents, yet these recent graduates confidently look forward to proceeding with their lives.

Many of these Kyrene Corridor graduates now seek higher education. The path to a college degree is vastly different than it was in earlier generations. Students today face rising education costs—in-state tuition has risen heavily in the past four years—a lagging economy and a tough job market.

But similarities to earlier generations still persist. Like many of their parents, today’s graduates face a world shaped by social and political conflict.

“We do face greater challenges than what our parents faced,” said 2005 Corona graduate Dane Klett. “With all the new technologies and all the new rules the government has set in place, teenagers of today lack the freedom that parents once enjoyed.”

He cited the escalating conflict over the origins of man and the teaching of evolution in schools versus a new off-shoot of creationism known as Intelligent Design.

“Look at the research that has been accumulated on both,” he said. “It’s now down to the cellular level. Young people of today not only have to learn what their parents did, but they have to learn all the new stuff that our parents didn’t even know existed.”

Wrangler News spoke to several members of Corona del Sol’s Class of 2005—from different walks of life—as they prepared to leave high school behind and enter that changing world.

Dane Klett

“The biggest obstacle I face is the adjustment from high school to college,” said 17-year-old Klett. “I had the same obstacle when I went from middle school to high school. Unfortunately I didn’t make a good transition, and it’s been an uphill battle ever since. “

But like so many other members of Corona’s Class of 2005, Klett leaves high school on a positive note, with enduring memories and poignant reflection.

“I am, however, graduating at the top of the hill,” he added.

Klett, who speaks fondly of friends and school trips during his time at Corona, has a clear plan for the future. Next year he plans to attend Arizona State University, where he will begin studies to be a physician, with a specialty in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

But the transition to college won’t be seamless, and won’t occur without the obligatory stress and anxiety that almost always accompany change, he says.

“Of course I have worries and fears,” Klett said. “I have been living in the same house since I was in third grade, and following the same group of kids through the school system for the last nine years. I’ll be going into a whole new environment, but I hope the change brings good fortune and a college degree.”

Meghan Evans

With graduation now behind her, Evans looks nervously forward to moving away from her familiar Arizona surroundings. Evans will attend the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she will double major in literature and film and digital media.

Evans, a producer of Corona’s award winning AztecTV student newscast, isn’t sure what she hopes to do with her major combination, but said she wants “to do something in film and I want to do something creative.”

Leaving Arizona, Evans said, will be the biggest challenge she faces.

Aside from the literal obstacle course that she says UCSC students actually pass through before attending school, Evans cites handling finances and dealing with problems independently as major obstacles that she—and most other college-bound students today—face after graduation.

“I have lots of fears and worries about the future,” she said. “Mostly because life as I know it is ending. I’ve never lived on my own before, or lived that far away from my parents, so it should be a new and interesting experience.”

She also said that today’s students are judged on greater standards than students of older generations.

“It seems that more is expected of us,” Evans said. “For our parents, it was enough for them just to get into college. But for us it’s about how much scholarship money you got; what internships you got; what career you will go into.  It’s about so much more than just getting into college.”

Andrew Parady

With a major undecided and no specific career goal in mind, graduate Parady is a little apprehensive about life after graduation.

“Right now I’m a little worried about my future,” said Parady, a CdS volleyball player who will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall. “I just wish I knew what I wanted to be and I would then be able to focus on that.”

Still, that hesitation excepted, Parady, like so many of his classmates, feels his emotions characterized more by enthusiasm than by nerves.

“Other than that I’m more excited than worried about going to college and on into the real world,” he added.

Parady, whose high school memories include a Washington, D.C. trip and Tempe Sister Cities involvement, said he feels those obstacles are still minimal compared to those of earlier students in earlier decades.

“I really think that today’s youth have it easier than our parents’ generation,” he said. “I don’t know for sure what my parents had to deal with growing up but it just seems to me that we have it easier.”

Through all generations the constant variable is challenge and uncertainty. Parady has a focused plan for overcoming it.

“I’m not sure what obstacles I’ll face,” Parady said. “I feel like I’m ready for college, but I’m sure there are obstacles that I don’t know about.  I’m just going to deal with them as they come to me.”

Joel Edman

Edman predicts he’ll experience a delayed reaction to the end of high school.

“I'm sure I'll miss it (high school) later, but for now, I'm relieved it's over,” he said.

Edman is an all-state trumpet player in the Corona band and president of the school’s Youth in Government club. He said he will miss “the friendships I made” now that he has graduated, but will stay nearby to attend Arizona State University where he will double major in Political Science and Economics with a minor in Spanish.

A National Merit Scholar and winner of the prestigious Flinn Foundation Scholarship, Edman hopes to be heavily involved in the world of politics and someday run for office, which he sees as one of his largest obstacles in his post-high school life.

“Being successful as a newbie on the political scene can be tough,” he said. “It's going to take a lot of work”

Edman sees his time in high school as the foundation for a new era; an era of changing global economics and politics, and an era in which the members of the Class of 2005 are called to action.

“We will be the last high school class that witnessed the events of September 11, 2001, in our high school classrooms,” he said.  “As a nation, we have been given a great opportunity to change the world.  We are much like the ‘new generation of Americans’ that President Kennedy referred to in his inauguration speech. That generation came of age in the Cold War and the Civil Rights era and changed the world. We are coming of age during the global War on Terrorism and we will face issues like globalization, immigration and gay rights that were not experienced by earlier generations.”

Wendy Zupac

“I've had my life planned out for a very long time,” said 2005 graduate Zupac. “So it's pretty scary to realize that the future I've been anticipating has arrived. The pressure to succeed in college and get into a good law school is going to start pretty soon.”

That plan includes a trip to ASU to double major in Political Science and Justice Studies with a minor in Spanish, before entering law school and pursuing a career in the legal arena.

The plan is shaped by Zupac’s high school experiences, including participation in Youth in Government, Competition Government, Cross Country, Track and Field and Spanish Honor Society.

“I liked the opportunities that came along with having a huge school like a variety of classes or the chance to study in Spain over the summer,” she said.

Zupac, like so many of her classmates, said the biggest obstacle she faces is adjusting to parental separation and personal independence, physically, mentally and financially. Still, she leaves optimistic.

“The reality of one era ending hasn't really hit yet, but for now I'm excited because it seems like I'm taking all of the best parts of high school—my good friends—and expanding them to college life with more independence, freedom to study what I want, and new people.”