GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The seats at Stocker Stadium will be packed next week, though not for a sporting event. School District 51 will send its seniors off in a number of graduation ceremonies in the days ahead.
For many of these high school seniors, a two to four year college is in their immediate future, but principals say a number of this year's graduates are finding alternate future paths including trade schools, military service and work.
Parents, take a deep breath. Between balloons, party favors, banners and cake, graduation for the class of 2013 is almost here.
"It’s been building and building and building. The last week has been a little crazy and it's getting crazier all the time," Party Land product manager Kelli McClelland said.
Next week, School District 51 will give diplomas to close to 1,400 seniors from high schools, online programs and home.
"It’s always a good year. This has been a great year," Fruita Monument High School principal Jan Keirns said. "We're looking at 68-70 percent of our students going on to higher education."
In the past three years, Mesa County School District 51 has watched its graduation rate increase from 74 percent on time grads in 2010 to 77.7 percent last year.
"We had a 91.3 percent graduation rate last year, and I expect we're going to hit that again," Keirns said of her students.
Like every year, it's a diverse group of graduates with some pursuing higher education, others enlisting for service and some cramming last minute so they can walk across that stage.
"[There are students who] maybe kids who slacked off early in their high school career, and now they really see a purpose for it," Keirns said.
Just like those students, graduation has local businesses and their parents cramming, too.
"We’ve actually been having people call since before Easter," Homestyle Bakery owner Janet Wilke said. "Other people are graduating from universities further out, and when they finally come home, their families have parties for them."
Celebrating a graduate's accomplishments doesn't come often, so it's a reason for many to keep the party going.
This year's School District 51 graduating class has also seen some major scholarship earners. Fruita Monument alone will graduate two Boettcher scholars, a Daniel’s scholar and an AP Female Scholar of the Year for math and science.
For a list of graduation ceremony sites, visit the related link below.