Skip Navigation LinksCherry Creek School District > District News > Students share stories of survival at Parents' Council
Print this page

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
Copyright © Cherry Creek School District #5, 4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 | 303-773-1184
Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

You are now leaving the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) portal. Please note that CCSD does not control nor can it guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, completeness, or appropriateness of any content contained on web sites and/or pages outside of the official CCSD portal. The information or opinions contained on these web sites and/or pages do not necessarily represent the views of the CCSD.

With access to the internet comes the availability of material that may not be of educational value or appropriate for students. While at school, CCSD has taken precautions to restrict access to inappropriate or harmful web sites. However, on the internet it is impossible to control all materials and limit all access to information that has no educational value. CCSD firmly believes that the valuable information and the interaction available on the internet far outweigh the possibility that users may procure material that is not consistent with the educational goals of CCSD.