A thank you to West – Kylie Worsham reflects on four years of feedback, mentoring

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Kylie Worsham

Kylie Worsham, second from the left, is an amazing writer, even though she doesn't love to do it. She is kind and generous and thoughtful and it always showed in her articles. Congrats on your graduation Kylie!

Kylie Worsham, Class of 2020

I started my four years at Greeley West in complete panic. I was leaving a tiny middle school with a class of maybe 100 people. The thought of entering a new school with almost 10 times the amount of people I was leaving with, was terrifying to me.

My very first day of high school, I was starting out with my same group of friends from middle school. Back then we had to beg our parents to allow us to have off campus lunch. I walked in thinking I was immediately going to be picked on by upperclassmen. I thought my teachers were going to say “Welcome to high school” and then pile on the homework assignments. I thought for at least a little bit that high school was going to suck.

It turned out to be the complete opposite.

My first day was a blast. I showed up at 7:15 and started with my math class. After that was the first pep rally. I was shocked at the amount of people in that gym. The seniors looked like grown men and women. Despite the words to the freshman cheer immediately leaving our minds after hearing the boos, the pep rally was it for me. It was from there on out I realized high school is actually going to be a lot of fun.

I remember riding the bus home that day excited to tell my mom how much fun I had. I felt so grown and independent and most importantly, welcomed.

From the first day I walked into Greeley West High School, there was never even a bad day the tarnished the thought that I belonged there. It has been the administration and staff that have worked so tirelessly, not only through my four years, but through all of their time there, to make each student feel important and worthy of something.

I would like to recognize a few teachers who did that for me.

My freshman year, I can remember Mr. Paulson’s civics class. It was the highlight of my day; I looked forward to his class so much because I could always tell he was a teacher that cared. I remember him having such a dry sense of humor, one that he still has to this day, but it mimicked my sense of humor so well. Not a class period went by when he didn’t rib on myself or another student, in a loving and joking manner of course, and more often than not it turned into a five minute comedy roast that the whole class was involved in. It was teachers like Mr. Paulson that taught me it’s okay to laugh at your mistakes, but it’s important not to make them again. I didn’t have the pleasure of having Mr. Paulson all four years, but I appreciate that he always said hello in the hallways when I’d walk past his classroom, and even more so when he’d come into Mr. Falter’s newspaper class and tell me he wore his polo of the day for me when it had a college team on it that I liked. Thank you Mr.Paulson, for contributing to my four years at West.

Sophomore year was when I was really able to start building relationships with teachers. One of my favorite elective classes was Food Science with Mrs. Guzman. All four years of high school, I really enjoyed cooking. When I found out there was a class I could take that was entirely about something I loved, I was over the moon. Mrs. Guzman taught me all the basics of cooking, despite me thinking I knew all there was to know. I looked forward to warm chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and whatever lab we were going to do that day. Along with teaching me the principles of that class, Mrs. Guzman also taught me that you don’t always have to be in control, not everything has to be followed strictly by the book and some things in life require another input. Of course she meant that just because I knew how to cook and follow recipes didn’t mean that someone else didn’t deserve a shot to make something of their own out of the recipe. However, in life it taught me that not everything is going to be done my way and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. A lesson that I took to heart for the remaining years of my high school career. Thank you Mrs. Guzman for contributing to my four years at West.

Another memorable teacher from my sophomore year is Mr. Falter. I had Mr. Falter my first semester sophomore year. I was enrolled in honor classes freshman year but they weren’t anything I couldn’t handle. But then I took Mr.Falter’s European History class, and it was the hardest I’d ever had to work in a class before then. In all honesty I used to dread Mr. Falter’s class. It was right after lunch when we had to rush to be on time for fear he’d lock us out in front of the whole class, followed by reading after reading, DBQ after DBQ, pages of notes a week, and then a big quiz every Friday afternoon. To sophomore me, it was a lot to handle and I was not a fan. But looking back on it now and having the pleasure of taking his Newspaper class my Senior year, I realized how great of a teacher Mr. Falter really is. Mr. Falter prepared me for the next two years of AP and Pre-College classes I was about to take. He praised me when I wrote something well, which only drove me to do it again and again so I could receive the same kind of praise. He explained and gave perspective when I had the complete wrong idea on a topic which eventually gave me the capacity to do so on my own when I didn’t have a teacher correcting my mistakes for me. By the end of that semester I had a new appreciation for hard work and fixing my mistakes on my own and I didn’t dread his class so much anymore, I actually really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much so that when he invited me to join his newspaper class I checked the little box at class registration without any hesitation. It was my senior year when my bond with Mr. Falter grew even more. His newspaper class is the class he enjoys teaching the most and one all of his students love being in. This year’s group was particularly small, but it’s diversity represented West in the best way possible. I looked forward to telling Mr. Falter all the crazy things that went on in my day and him telling me to “write a story about it!” Mr. Falter, too, has a very dry sense of humor, which I appreciated and used to my advantage to joke with him and end my day on a high note. Thank you Mr. Falter for the years of smiles and important lessons, and thank you for contributing to my four years at West.

Going into my Junior year I had taken on a pretty intense class load, never expecting my motivation to take the turn it did. However there were a few teachers, that despite the challenges I gave them, they stuck it out with me.

Starting with Ms. Schneider, I had her for English both my sophomore and junior year. Junior year’s class however was definitely a level up. Her class was challenging, and included a lot of writing. Schneider knew that I wasn’t too fond of writing but that I was really good at it. Because of that, she always went the extra mile to make sure I completed my assignments. Whether it was extensions because she knew how often I worked outside of school or checking in on me at the beginning of class because she knew that year was particularly hard for me. It was from there where my writing really grew, I learned how to use and arrange words to make powerful statements. I became very literate and good with words, and to this day it has been very beneficial. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without her and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to pass that AP Lang test. Thank you Ms. Schneider for contributing to my four years at West.

The next two teachers are probably the ones I gave the hardest time.

Ms. Burke was my math teacher, Trigonometry and PreCalc to be exact. Growing up I was always pretty good at math. I hardly ever struggled and it generally came pretty easily to me. Boy was that a slap in the face when I got to trig. Everything seemed foreign, it was like a whole new language to me that I just couldn’t seem to get a grasp on. For some reason, my junior year, when something got challenging I tended to run from it and avoid it all costs. Ms. Burke knew that, she could tell by the number of times I decided to “sleep in” instead of going to her class. I knew that she was willing to help. The classes I did go to, she’d spend 20 minutes on one problem explaining it in different ways so that the whole class would understand. So when I finally got over the embarrassment and my lack of trying, she was there with every before school, lunch, and after school appointment she had available to help me. It wasn’t perfect and by my own doing I wasn’t able to do as well as I could in that class, but Ms. Burke tried so hard to help me put the pieces together and stuck it out till the end. Thank you Ms. Burke for contributing to my four years at West.

Next on the list, Ms. Sanford, I had always heard good things about Ms. Sanford. The grade above me had her as their AVID teacher and nothing but raved over her. I initially was really excited to have her as a teacher and then I started her class. And you guessed it, it was hard. Almost a chapter every week from a book that was heavier than my backpack. One thing I hated even more than writing was reading. I fought her on reading that book so hard, even though the concept was simple, read the chapter, take the quiz, do well and move on. However, those quizzes were really hard if you didn’t read the chapter. I soon stopped attending her class as often as I should have, another one of those times where I thought I could run from the challenges rather than face them head on. It got to the point where I had missed three days of the four I had her class and was embarrassed to even show up at that point, but Ms. Sanford was still there everyday, with a smile and a compliment on my outfit. I had quickly realized that the reason I was so embarrassed to show up after missing her class so much was because I subconsciously looked up to her so much. She was young and vibrant, and hadn’t let her years of teaching get to her whatsoever. She was opinionated and stood up for what she believed in, not only trying to make a difference in her students lives but trying to make a difference in the world. I can remember her wearing a new pin or color to represent something she felt so passionately about it. She was every concept I wanted to be and I was not proving myself to be anything like her. While again, I may have not reached my full potential in her class, she taught me that it’s never impossible to reach your full potential in life and it’s always okay to stand up for what you believe in and it’s even better to do it with a smile and some class. Thank you Ms. Sanford for contributing to my four years at West.

That same year I had Mrs. Muro for Spanish 4. It was the only Spanish class that fit into my schedule and I wanted to continue with a foreign language. Spanish 4 turned out to be a class of mostly native speakers, all of which she taught in the previous year. I remember the very first day she was welcoming everyone in Spanish, asking them how their summers were, each one of them responding in Spanish with a dialect so fast I could barely understand. It came around to my turn, I answered with my voice shaking, trying to deep dive into my mind and find a phrase that would answer the question. The best I could get out was, “I took care of my little brother and spent time with my friends”. She hit me with a “muy bien” and a smile bigger than she gave anyone else and moved on, not for a second shining light on the fact that I didn’t speak as well as everyone else. Through my entire junior year she worked closely with me to make sure I was understanding the material, which only gave me a jump start to excel on my own. Soon enough I was speaking and reading like everyone else and I was a part of the family. We started every day talking about something personal, she would go first and the rest of us would follow. Before her class I always had the hardest time putting myself in vulnerable situations, it was because of her that I grew out of that and my confidence flourished because of it. Thank you señora Muro for contributing to my four years at West.

By the end of my Junior year I was so excited to be a senior. It was going to be smooth sailing from there. My mentality was, get it, get it done, get out. I never thought it was going to be so hard to leave or that I was going to make even more of a bonding relationship with teachers. As I said before Mr. Falter was one that I got really close to and I thank him for getting me through my senior year. I also had two different English teachers that I grew to really love.

I had Ms. Hammer for a poetry class, first semester of senior year. I went into it honestly thinking, “This is an easy A, no big deal.” It turned out that her class was a big deal. Ms. Hammer welcomed us with a “Hammer hello” every morning. Something most of us thought was silly and for 3rd graders, but I quickly realized it was only her way of starting each class of right with a smile and some affection. Ms. Hammer is the most affectionate teacher I’ve ever had and it really taught me how to be more that way. She taught me that a hug or a high-five for a job well done can mean almost as much as something material. She taught me that the little things in life are most important and more often than not keep you sane. She taught me that it’s okay to get excited over small things and little victories and that optimism can be someone’s greatest attribute. Thank you for teaching me the power of words and for being so excited to see my face everyday and thank you Ms. Hammer for contributing to my four years at West.

The next English teacher is Ms. Dent. Ms. Dent has done nothing but pump me full of love and encouragement. She too has helped my writing grow into something personal and beautiful. She has given me nothing but freedom to express myself in all the ways I needed. At the start of her class, this year, my parents were just getting a divorce and I had no idea how to talk about the way I was feeling and get those heavy thoughts off my mind. Her class everyday allowed me to get those thoughts and feelings off my chest and on to paper and some of them are the best pieces I’ve ever written. I always left her class with a smile, feeling like a weight had been lifted. She too helped me with my struggles with vulnerability and confidence and I have nothing but flourished thanks to her welcoming classroom and spirit. I love your face Ms. Dent and thank you for contributing to my four years at West.

Last but certainly not least we have Mr. Torrez. I knew of Mr. Torrez almost my whole life, being that one of his sons has been a close friend of mine since middle school. I didn’t know what to expect walking into his class because I had heard he can be kind of a hard teacher. First semester I learned that to be true. He had high expectations of everyone which at first turned me off from his teaching because I already had high expectations of myself. But I quickly realized his expectations had little to do with math and everything to do with my character. Mr. Torrez knew I could do well in math, better than well actually, but he was determined to push me to reach my full potential as a person. And he did his part wonderfully. Despite the eye-rolls, moans, and plops on the desk face first, his daily speeches became something I benefited from the most. Never a day went by when I didn’t learn something from Mr. Torrez, whether it was a math lesson or a life lesson. Once I started taking myself less seriously thanks to Mr. Torrez, minor inconveniences seemed less detrimental. After all, I was a tough Greeley kid and could get through just about anything with a little grit. My skin has grown tougher and my endurance better due to the lessons Torrez taught in his class each day. Thank you Mr. Torrez for contributing to my four years at West.

While I haven’t gotten to experience the good every teacher at West has to offer, I know for a fact that us seniors wouldn’t have been able to do what we did these last four years without each and everyone of you. The care and drive each teacher at West has to make something out of their students is astonishing. For some of us, school and your classroom was our safe spot. For some of us the “Okay love you bye” from Mrs. Zulauf was the only “I love you” we heard that day, but it was enough to help us keep going. For some of us our teachers and counselor were the mother/father figures we needed in our lives. Regardless of what you gave to us students about yourself, not a drop of it goes unappreciated. Us seniors tip our virtual caps to you Greeley West High School staff, for getting us through to here. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.