Adult ed students balance life in their hands, including education

Members of the 2022 Churchill County School District Adult Education Diploma Program pose before their May 26 ceremony.

Members of the 2022 Churchill County School District Adult Education Diploma Program pose before their May 26 ceremony.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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Graduates of the Churchill County School District’s Adult Education Diploma Program were told by several speakers at their May 26 ceremony not to stop believing in themselves both now and in the future.

Not only was the message illustrated at the high-school’s auditorium by guest speaker Rachel Knight, Churchill County High School’s vice principal, but also by several graduates who found the inner strength to finish their required coursework and to aim for the next step.

Ann Marie Cooper, who’s in her early 30s, struggled as a single mother while taking care of her three children and finishing her classes to receive the long-awaited diploma.

Steve Ranson/LVN
Ann Marie Cooper receives her diploma from Summer Stephens, superintendent for the Churchill County School District.


Cooper became emotional thinking about her accomplishment as she scanned the front row looking at her children. Her eyes welled up with tears. The children were escorted to the stage to accompany their mother as she offered her impressions and thanked everyone for helping her achieve het goal.

Cooper said her children have been her biggest motivation as were her classmates graduating from one of the largest classes in years. As graduation neared, Cooper said she was ready to walk out, but she said her teachers and the director of the Adult Diploma Program, Chanelle Johnson, wouldn’t let her quit.

“She was motivating me to never give up,” Cooper said, adding the director told her graduating was possible.
Now, Cooper plans to further her education by studying cosmetology and business accounting.

Steve Ranson/LVN
Rachel Knight, Churchill County High School’s vice principal, delivers the graduating address.

Likewise, Maria Alondra Orozco-Bravo persevered in the program, ready to quit until Johnson encouraged her to remain.
“I finally did it,” Orozco-Bravo said.

Now, Orozco-Bravo is a detention specialist with Churchill County, and she plans to study for her associate degree at Western Nevada College’s Fallon campus.

As with Cooper, talking to her family from the stage in Spanish became emotional for her.

Kenji IronCloud thanked Johnson and his teachers along with his family.

“Thank you, little brother, for helping me with my math,” IronCloud said, drawing chuckles from the audience.

He also thanked his girlfriend Ashely, saying she supported him to accomplish his goals.

Knight continued to tell the student to believe in themselves.

“You overcame obstacles and barriers to get to this place,” she said.

Steve Ranson/LVN
The procession begins the 2022 Churchill County School District Adult Education Diploma Program on May 26 at the Churchill County High School auditorium.


Knight related her road in education to the students. She was in school in her 20s and 30s working on a degree while helping to pay the bills and share in the childrearing of three sons with a husband who had a high-stress job.

Knight noted the students accomplished their goals as well.

“Your diploma is evidenced of that,” she pointed out. “Your grit, resilience, perseverance demonstrate you have demonstrated some efficacy.”

Knight continued with her mini-lesson in explaining self-efficacy or how people achieve their goals. She said people believing in themselves is self-efficacy.

The vice principal further illustrated her point by telling the time she practiced for a triathlon and wanted to give up, but she didn’t. She said her husband cheered her to succeed.

Knight said the students needed to use a “Nevada” term when they set out to accomplish their goals.

“When the time comes for you to bet on yourself, I hope you double down,” Knight said.

Steve Ranson/LVN
Maria Alondra Orozco-Bravo said she plans to continue her education at Western Nevada College.


Johnson thanked members of the Churchill County School District Board of Trustees for attending, and the support from Superintendent Summer Stephens and Derild Parsons, director of Learning and Innovation. She also recognized Charlene Richard, her instructional assistant.

“Friends and family, community members and staff, you make this night memorable,” Johnson said.

She also thanked the students for not giving up.

“Never stop believing in yourselves,” she said. “I hope you lead a very happy, loving and exemplary life.”

Graduates included Bliss Kaylee Bolling, Bridget Jo Brooks, Steven Michael Challacomb, Kenji Michal IronCloud, Ann Marie Cooper, Wesley Shane Kyte, Azalia Renee Martinez, Jesse Ty Melendy, Kuera Zanel Mendiola, Taylor Marie Nichols, Maria Alondra Orozco-Bravo, Amanda Paige McManamy, Jenirae Stephany Soto-Reyes, Laura Leanne Swank, Halee Jean Vaden and Ashley Ann Workman.

Steve Ranson/LVN
Chantelle Johnson, director of the Churchill County School District’s Adult Education Diploma Program, thanks the students on their achievements and the school board and administrators for their support.



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