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High school graduations are this week. This is usually when I write something about how this is a rite of passage and they are now entering the adult world. However, I’m going to do something different this year. I’m going to name some names.

It’s been almost 20 years since I started covering sports and other events at Parker High School. I have met so many incredible young people during that time. However, what provides me real joy is seeing how so many of them have turned out after they left high school.

From what I’ve seen, we’re doing a fine job of raising young people here in Parker. Look at how many of them have come back or want to come back after leaving the area for a time.

Just to start, I know six coaches at Parker High that I watched play sports there. They’re assistant football coach Kyle Carlson, assistant football coach and baseball manager Sean Golding, assistant volleyball coaches Nicole Chavez and Tahnee Sharpe, assistant wrestling coach Jake Maya, and head track coach Nick Uden.

It goes back further than that. I’m often amazed at how many of the staff in the Parker School District went to school here. It must say something about us that they want to come back.

There are others, of course. I think of Anthony Rothacher, who played football at Parker High and now runs La Piazza Pizza.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Silvia McGuire, nee Flores. I met her when she was the setter on the Broncs’ volleyball team. I understand she was the first person in her family to go to college. She is now the head of the emergency department at La Paz Regional Hospital.

I can’t forget Chad Kulp, who went to Annapolis and became a U.S. Navy officer.

I wouldn’t want to miss Raquel Reyna, who is now active in organizing the youth pageants.

I also have to mention the Sharpe sisters, Whitney, Tahnee and Mariah. There’s also the brother-sister duo of Josh Banuelos and Dani McKarson. They both became sheriff’s deputies, and, while they’ve left the area, they made their mark here.

Speaking of law enforcement, I saw Steve Maya play sports at Parker High and he’s now a sheriff’s deputy. William Lucas played sports at Parker High, and now he’s the school resource officer.

There are others who have left the area but are letting everyone know how wonderful Parker is, like Jeremy Davalos and Amy Watts.

These are just a few examples. I’ve seen so many wonderful young people come through the Parker schools that I can’t begin to list them all here. If I left your name out, don’t feel bad. I just didn’t have the room.

As I said, we must be doing something right. From what I can see, it’s because people in Parker care about their kids, and they care about the schools. Parker people feel these are their schools. They want them to succeed.

When parents care about the schools and their children’s education, the kids will do well. Not only that, they will sense that someone cares about them. When young people know someone cares about them, they are more likely to succeed in school and become productive young adults.

One could argue it’s the river lifestyle that brings people to Parker. However, for the people who grew up here, I believe it’s the knowledge that the people here care that keeps them wanting to come back.

So, if what I’ve seen is any indication, I’m not worried about the Class of 2021. They’re going to be just fine.

At the risk of sounding trite, I’ll say the same thing I say every year. Class of 2021, you’re new at this grown-up business, and I’ll admit it can seem scary and overwhelming at times. Don’t be afraid to ask those of us who have been grown-ups for a while for assistance. Who knows? You may find your parents know a lot more than you thought they did. You may even find that, when they were your age, they were a lot cooler than you are!

Good luck, Class of 2021, and God Bless!

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