School Profile: A year of success for the GJ Tigers

By: Cecile Juliette Email
By: Cecile Juliette Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Principal Jon Bilbo says this has been a great year for the Grand Junction Tigers. The students have scored well in standardized tests, they've achieved many athletic wins, and they're looking ahead towards life after graduation.

Bilbo says, "I think what makes the Tigers great is we have a history of excellence in academics and athletics, and that tradition has continued in the last 3 1/2 years that I've been here."

Bilbo has had a long career as a principal, but he says this is the first school at which he's worked long enough to watch students come in as freshman and graduate as seniors four years later, and it's been fun. He says, "This year is the year that our seniors were freshman when I first got here, so it's my opportunity to have seen them all four years, and we're extremely proud about their accomplishments."

He says the school has offered several new classes in the last few years in an effort to give students a broader education. Principal Billbo says attendence is up 90 percent, well above the state average. Graduation rates are up as well. Bilbo touts the STRIVE program, or Students Taking Responsibility In Valueing Their Education. Bilbo says "they have the same teachers in all of the core areas. The goal is to have a group of core teachers that are supporting these students in all four of the core areas. Plus they pick up, as freshman and sophmores, a STRIVE elective class, where they get additional support, they talk about individual goals, study skills, those types of things. Plus, they get a lot of mentoring from their teachers. And most of these students are students who will be first generation college students ."

Grand Junction High School has many stand-out students. Spencer Weinberg took state in tennis. One of his teammates, Parker Hegstrom, also played well. He finished third at No. 3 singles. The entire tennis team qualified for state. But Hegstrom says watching Weinberg compete on the court was a blast. He says, "a first time experience for me was being on the tennis team with a state champion. That was just a great experience this year, seeing someone just dominate the competition. Everyone's just behind him, we were all going crazy, just being a team. It was great."

At least two Grand Junction seniors have been nominated to the Naval Academy this year. Andrew Duff and Casey Walker are both seniors. They say this year's success on the football field made for a wonderful year. Duff says, "after every game singing the fight song, win or lose, everybody really embraced that, took it to heard, and you could see more pride everyhwhere." Duff will choose between the Naval Academy and West Point after graduation.

Walker was chosen for the Denver Post's All-Colorado football team as defensive lineman. Walker says, "our football season was great, just getting to that third round in the playoffs was a very special moment." Walker says he has applied to the Naval Academy, and hopes he will be accepted.

In the latest C-SAP test, Grand Junction's 9th graders improved their scores by 12 percent. In 2008, 69 percent of 9th graders scored proficient or above, which was 3 percent higher than the state average. The following year, they dropped to 63 percent, falling below the state average by 5 percent.

But in 2010, the 9th graders scored an average of 75 percent on the C-SAP, a 12 percent jump from the prior year, and 7 percent above the state average.

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