Woodland Park High School Class of 2020 has had anything but a traditional end to their senior year.
“The effect that COVID-19 has had on the Class of 2020 has been absolutely heartbreaking. We lost our last season of spring sports amid many other senior events: we didn’t get to have our senior skip day, capping ceremony, senior prom or graduation at the Pikes Peak Center,” said Karly Purkey, WPHS Class Valedictorian. “The most devastating part to me is that we are ending senior year separated. Some of my classmates I have known since preschool and its saddening that I won’t get to sit on the stage with them and celebrate the past 12 years. Our senior year was supposed to be the best year of high school that we’d remember for the rest of our lives.
“This year will be memorable for sure, but not the memories we were hoping for.”
Karly has attended school in Woodland Park School District her entire life. She played volleyball and soccer and was a member of the Knowledge Bowl, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Key Club and student council.
“My favorite class at WPHS was AP World History with Mrs. Norton,” Karly said. “Social Studies was never my favorite subject, but Mrs. Norton taught this class in such a fun way that I always looked forward to going to class.” She added that students were able to make memes and play card games related to the curriculum, while learning valuable skills that could be applied in other classes, such as academic writing.
Some of Karly’s favorite WPHS memories include winning league in volleyball her senior year; traveling to Moab and Yellowstone with Mr. Ganoza’s AP Environmental Science class, enjoying ice cream sundae parties in Student Council; and bonding with teammates on her soccer team. She received an AP Scholar with Distinction Award and is currently waiting to hear back about other scholarship applications.
“I have very mixed emotions about graduating. On one end I can’t believe it’s over. Especially considering how my high school experience is ending. I’m still processing the fact that my last day in high school was over two months ago and I didn’t even know that was it,” Karly said. “I loved high school and I am definitely going to miss seeing my classmates every day and participating in all the activities that I loved. On a positive note, I am happy to be done and I am super excited to be starting a new chapter of my life.”
Karly will be working over the summer before attending Duke University in Durham, N.C. in the fall. She plans to study neuroscience and statistics.
Maya Mijares, also a lifelong WPSD student, is the Class of 2020 Salutatorian.
“It is an honor to be recognized for this accomplishment, especially considering some steep competition from my friends and peers,” Maya said. “Karly and I worked very hard for our successes, and I feel so proud that the top two students of WPHS Class of 2020 are both WPSD students since preschool.”
Maya was a member of the Beta Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, WPHS Swim Team, and was a pit musician for school productions. She also served on the Sex Education Community Task Force to assist in recommending a new sexual health curriculum for WPSD. Some of her favorite memories include participating on Student Council and being on the school’s first swim team.
“My favorite class was AP World History because we were able to explore the entire history of the world from the very beginning of humankind,” Maya said. “Mrs. Norton is an incredible teacher who has inspired me many times in my learning and interest about the world.”
Speaking about how COVID-19 altered the Class of 2020’s senior year, Maya said the class, “has had a very difficult time with the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to the final weeks of our senior year. We have lost so many celebrations, traditions, experiences and memories of this special time that we will never get back.
“What has been wonderful though is that our community really seems to mourn with us, and we feel their understanding and sympathy for what we have lost. I would like to thank our community for supporting us and celebrating us in so many creative ways. It has really made all the difference to us and we appreciate it so much.”
After spending her summer as a lifeguard and swim instructor at Woodland Aquatic Center, Maya will be attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. A National Merit Commended Scholar and National Hispanic Scholar, Maya was granted Admission with Distinction to WWU; was accepted into the university’s Honors Program and Biology Distinguished Scholar Program; and received the WUE scholarship — WWU’s top merit scholarship.
“I am very excited for the next chapter of my life!” Maya said. “I have never lived anywhere else, and am looking forward to moving to the Pacific Northwest — one of my favorite places on the planet. I am ready to challenge myself as a student, travel, and experience new adventures.”