Editor’s note: This is the first of eight articles previewing soon-to-be graduates from the Post Register’s coverage area.
The road to high school graduation isn’t always straight and narrow.
Many students get detoured either by life’s circumstances or by their own choices. Some of those never graduate; others manage to get back on track and earn their diplomas.
Emerson High School and Lincoln High School provide opportunities to continue in education for those who struggle with the traditional path.
Emerson expects 35 students to graduate June 2.
Lincoln expects 38 students to graduate June 5.
The following are profiles of two students handpicked by school administrators.
Through two years of high school, Mason Scott struggled.
Scott, 19, often didn’t achieve grades higher than a C as a freshman or sophomore. During his sophomore year and the beginning of his junior year he missed so many classes at Hillcrest High School, he was told he might need to consider summer school if he ever wanted to graduate.
Then he transferred to Emerson High School and started to flourish.
Previously he struggled with math, but under the tutelage of Emerson teachers, it quickly became one of his favorite subjects.
He branched out socially and got involved in a game club he currently helps run. He also designed the prom posters and tickets for Emerson.
Now, just weeks before the June 2 graduation, Scott is one of 35 students expected to receive a diploma. He is currently getting As and Bs and hopes to attend the Art Institute of Salt Lake City and further his interest in graphic design.
Scott first got involved with graphic design at Hillcrest when he was introduced to Adobe Photoshop.
“I like putting detail into something that wasn’t there before.” Scott said. “When you look at a picture, you see something very basic that the photographer wanted you to emphasize. My goal is to take the background and underlying detail and improve them so you can evenly distribute the eye candy that’s across the picture.”
Now, he hopes to take the next leap in both his academic and personal lives by leaving his family to go to college and learn about 3-dimensional graphic design and modeling. Eventually, Scott wants to be a graphic designer working on video games for Microsoft Corp.
Dianna Marzolf, Scott’s counselor at Emerson, said she has seen him transform over the past year and a half.
“He doesn’t do anything to draw attention to himself, but meanwhile is a really good kid. He’s got a lot of potential,” Marzolf said.
Scott recently was awarded two scholarships; the Graduate Project Senior Scholarship, worth $700, and the Idaho Falls Rotary Club Scholarship, worth $1,000.
Looking to college, Scott said Salt Lake City is close enough to his family support network, but far away enough to where he can gain some independence. He said he is excited to leave Idaho Falls and see what a bigger city has to offer.
Jose Diosdado, 19, didn’t often go to class at Lincoln High School. Rather, he dabbled in drugs and crime.
On Nov. 19, 2010, Diosdado was out drinking at a party. During the night, Diosdado was involved with others who went on a spree, bashing out car windows. Diosdado was picked up by police and went to jail for felony malicious injury to property.
In 2012, he changed his ways for the better.
“I’m not going to be this kid that’s in and out of jail and on probation his whole life,” he said.
Instead, Diosdado has embraced Lincoln.
“I just like how there is no drama here,” he said. “Everyone is friends. The teachers go out of their way to help you.”
He credits math teachers Richard Shutes and John Tucker for helping him excel academically. Diosdado said they took a subject he struggled with and made the classes fun.
Tucker said his relationship with Diosdado budded over a friendly football rivalry.
“He’s a Cowboys fan and I’m a Steelers fan,” Tucker said. “We would tease each other quite frequently. He began to trust me and we developed a relationship there.”
Tucker said he was able to use that trust to talk through issues with Diosdado when conflict would flare up. Overtime, he saw Diosdado transform from a truant to a devoted student.
“At some point in time that light at the end of the tunnel becomes apparent,” he said of students at Lincoln. “You could see that in Jose. As he got closer to graduation, boy, you could tell he was focused.”
Diosdado, one of five children in his family, will be the first to graduate high school. He is getting ready to apply to Idaho State University, where he hopes to study criminal justice. After college, he wants to become a probation officer and help motivate people to turn their lives around the way he did.
With graduation approaching, Tucker had one more message for Diosdado: “Go Steelers!”