Pioneer grads triumph over challenges |

Pioneer grads triumph over challenges

by Heather Swanson
For the Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Molly Marie Mygatt, center, listens to the graduation ceremony speech along with classmates from Pioneer High School at the Carson City Community Center on Tuesday night. Left to right, Nicholas Perez, Jose Elizondo, Lance Cowperthwaite, Derek Moyle.

Every graduate has a list of reasons to be proud this year, from academic success to career plans.

Carson City Pioneer High School students, however, may have a slightly longer list.

In addition to tackling all of the academic requirements, students at the alternative school are there because they’ve already faced a number of real-world challenges that might have kept them from donning their graduation gown. Those included teen pregnancy and drug addictions.

While some struggled socially before attending Pioneer High School, others were simply struggling academically.

Melissa Moline was one of the latter. Formerly a student at Douglas High School in Minden, the 17-year-old had a large network of friends in her hometown of Gardnerville. But while her friends excelled in honors courses, Moline struggled to get by, often skipping classes altogether.

“I was cutting class all the time,” she admitted. “I don’t really have a reason for that. It was a mistake; I wish that I hadn’t done that.”

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She admits she didn’t face some of the challenges her classmates did.

“A lot of Pioneer students don’t have some of the same chances (as other teenagers),” she said. “Some of them are already mothers.” Others “come from a neighborhood where there’s drugs involved.”

At Pioneer High School, Moline says one of the real motivating factors for her was “just knowing that I had to do it and this was my last chance.”

Pioneer High School teachers were able to turn around Moline’s negative experiences.

The same is true for her 22 classmates, all of whom excitedly received their diplomas at the Carson City Community Center on Tuesday night.

“I applaud your tenacity,” said Principal Mark Van Voorst during the ceremony. “I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he told an audience of family and friends.

District Superintendent Mary Pierczynski agreed, noting the graduates were “students who stayed the course.”

All of the graduates, Van Voorst said, are “some of the best young adults I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.”

Moline says that she is excited to be a graduate. “I’m glad that it happened,” she said. She adds that now she only hopes to do well in her next endeavor.

Moline plans to go into the real estate business. Her mother, Laura Moline, works for Remax Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville.

“She was one of those types of kids that did not do well in typical schools,” said Laura Moline when asked about her daughter. “She just lacked the confidence in a larger setting.”

Melissa Moline plans to attend Western Nevada Community College in the fall.

“She’s grown up into a wonderful young woman,” her mother said proudly. “She’s a great kid and she’s going to go far.”

Melissa Moline’s father, David Moline, owns and operates Moline Builders in Gardnerville. She has two sisters, Amanda, 19, and Monica, 14.