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Panhandle Spirit: Sanford-Fritch HS seniors reach milestone

The wall at Sanford-Fritch HS features the names of the entire Class of '18 that has secured post-graduation education opportunities(ABC7 News David Bradley)

The Class of 2018 at Sanford-Fritch High School is celebrating a major milestone. For the first time in school history, each senior has locked down a potential path to success by being accepted into college, a trade school, or the military. They said it’s the result of remarkable teamwork.

Just outside the main office, there’s a wall full of certificates, with each senior’s name and where they’re headed after graduation. Kacey Torres-Ruiz, who teaches senior English, said it started with her vision to change the mentality of the school and the community about what it means to go to college.

“School culture is so important especially in a community like Fritch that is so industry-based, based on all the plants and things around us that we have this culture of, ‘We’re going to graduate and go into the workforce’,” she said.

She decided to make it part of her curriculum this year, for students to go through the college application process and drive home the importance of developing several options for life after graduation. Her own daughter, Hannah, has been focused on her dream of being an engineer, which was inspired by an animated show she loved as a child.

“Actually, believe it or not, it was ‘Bob the Builder’ when I was younger, and I’ve always loved how buildings were structured, and bridges, the architecture, and development of all of them,” Hannah said.

She’s been accepted by Texas A&M.

Her classmate, Ashtyn Melton, is headed to Amarillo College, to continue toward her goal of becoming a dental hygienist. She said the teachers have been a tremendous help in preparing her for the college workload.

“They were really hands-on with it. They always made sure you had what you needed and the grades were good and if you ever needed help with it, they made sure that you got it,“ Ashtyn said.

Counselor Kim Surles tells ABC 7 News they get kids thinking about higher education when they’re in elementary school with college days once a month. It’s reinforced in junior high and hits another gear when they reach high school.

“When they come in as freshmen, we talk about classes and what are their future plans. ‘What college are you going to go to, or if you’re not going to college, what are you going to do?’ So, we get them thinking early on about their plans for the future,” said Surles.

The 100 percent success wasn’t something they planned on, but it gained momentum as more certificates made it onto the wall. Torres-Ruiz said that optimism has spread beyond the classroom.

“I truly believe that Fritch, from the teachers to the parents to the students, are really wanting to change and evolve in that culture. You can do anything. We have so many great alumni that are lawyers and doctors, and are just impressive. We need those to be our role models and mentors for what you can do coming from Sanford-Fritch High School.”

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