Graduates of Distinction eager to explore new horizons
PHS seniors depart with memories
Prescott High School Graduates of Distinction Colton Amos and Aydan Bruce admit the pinnacle of their K-12 years will bring pride of accomplishment, some jitters over what is to come and a flood of memories they will treasure for a lifetime.
These two senior leaders, who started in Prescott Unified schools as wide-eyed kindergartners, on Friday night will be feted as outstanding seniors, excelling in their K-12 years academically, athletically and musically.
The other PHS Graduates of Distinction to be honored at commencement exercises are: Bradyn Braithwaite, Christian Brunton, Trevor Cargill, Ciarra Challinor, Austin Clark, Megan Despain, Sydney Dicker, Danielle Dreher, Shana Edwards, Garrett Fenderson, Johnathan Gross, Spencer Hewitt, Clayton Hinton, Christopher Hussey, Gabriella Larson, Lauryn Lawlor, Rye MacFee, Eli Nelson, Caleb Ortiz-Garzaran, Olivia Osburn, Bryce Peters, Clifford Robbins, Madeline Rounseville and Hannah Walsh.
Colton said he will long remember when the Badgers twice defeated their rivals, the Bradshaw Mountain High Bears, on their home football turf.
“It was awesome,” said Colton, the team captain both years. “Beating the cross-town rival is something you dream of.”
Much of his time outside the classroom was spent perfecting his athletic talents.
From his early years, Colton showed athletic promise in football, wrestling and track — he did all three sports his first two years of high school; his junior year he wrestled and played football and then senior year he focused just on football.
In his senior year, he was president of the National Honor Society and a member of the academic honors club.
“I’m always busy. I always have something to look forward to, and I love it,” Colton said.
As a school leader, Colton said he strived to lead by example. He wanted to showcase for others the power of hard work. He thanked his family — parents John and Mary Jo and older sister Allie Jo — for their constant and continued encouragement.
He, too, offered a special thanks to Joe Howard, his one-time wrestling coach and district superintendent with whom he worked on a high school student advisory council.
“It’s been such a pleasure watching Colton grow up,” Howard said. “He was always such a friendly kid, easy to talk to, and also serious about being successful at whatever he took on, even as a little guy … He’s so very well rounded as a person, hitting the top echelon of academic achievement all the way through, being able to communicate articulately on the adult level before his time, ad connecting socially with all types of kids,” Howard said.
Colton will depart Prescott this coming year to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he will play football and study mechanical engineering. His goal is to one day work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Aydan was a finalist for the 2019 Female Youth of the Year in the Prescott Area Leadership awards and was the director of the 2019 National Honor Society’s annual talent show. She is a member of the International Thespian Society and volunteers with the Granite Creek Hunger Ministry. Aydan has been a star musical and theater performer at both the high school, Yavapai College and the Prescott Center for the Arts.
Like Colton, Aydan grew up in the district and managed to strike the right balance between stand-out academics and immersion into all the things that make flipping through the high school yearbook pages a worthy endeavor.
Aydan’s main cheerleaders in life are her parents, John and Barbara, a PHS alumnus, and brother, Jack, a high school sophomore.
As Aydan prepares to study musical theater at Arizona State University, she acknowledges she didn’t tap into her singing and acting talents until she did not make the varsity soccer team and instead opted to switch her focus to music and theater. She auditioned for her first high school show, “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and was cast as Snoopy.
From there, she found her passion. She said that role “changed my life.”
Aydan ended up performing in shows all four years. This year she accepted what she said was the most difficult: she played the lead role of Felix in the PHS all-female cast of “The Odd Couple.” She, too, was in the cast of the Yavapai College musical “Mary Poppins.”
This summer she will travel to Canada to perform as part of the college youth choir.
PHS choral teacher Erin Sobo said over the past three years she has been “blessed” to watch Aydan “as she’s grown into a vibrant and compassionate young adult.”
“Her passion for learning, plus her personality, work ethic, and strong leadership skills puts her first above the average student,” Sobo said. “I am so proud of all that she has accomplished so far and I know Aydan will succeed in all that she sets her mind to!”
Aydan will relish the final moments of high school even as she anticipates the opening of the next door.
“It’ll be really bittersweet,” Aydan said. “This is the place that really made me who I am … But I’m excited to move on to a bigger city and be challenged to follow my dreams.”