They said he wasn't college material.
And that he wouldn't amount to anything.
Physical Therapist Rich Sadvar of Craig Physical Therapy set the record straight Friday afternoon to about 40 Moffat County High School students.
"I wasn't a perfect student," he bellowed to students.
"I was told I wasn't good enough to succeed above this level," Sadvar said, holding his arm waist-high in front of a roomful of students gathered in the high school woodshop. "I'm living proof that a guy who was supposed fail -- succeeded."
Sadvar turned out OK but nobody believed that when he attended school in Moffat County in the mid-1980s. He returned to the high school to offer students the inspiration to pursue their dreams.
Students in teacher Craig Conrad's woodshop class are used to hearing tales of overcoming obstacles from the class' occasional Friday guest speakers.
It's impossible to miss the large lettering, "Expect Excellence," above the chalkboard, or the montage of photographs of bygone students beaming in front of completed woodshop products that adorn the walls.
The passing of a small poem, another extension of Conrad's unyielding belief in his students, evidently made a difference in Sadvar's life. Conrad gave Sadvar a handwritten poem titled "Don't Quit," first given to Conrad by his father before Sadvar headed to the University of Wyoming.
While hitting the books late night in the library, or later deciding to become a physical therapist, Sadvar referred to the poetic words for strength.
Students received photocopies of the poem Friday.
"Do not let somebody tell you you can't be what you want to be," Sadvar stressed. "The system is designed to fail you. It's not intentional, but it's there."
His words resonated with woodshop student Camie Robinson.
"I think this is very cool," she said. "I always come and listen to the Friday speakers."
Sadvar's mother, Paula Sadvar, now creates elf costumes for the woodshop's Christmas program. Paula's son passed her the poem when she was considering completing her high school education. The poem helped her complete her GED, which she did at age 42.
Now the message to strive for greatness, which started on its path decades ago, circled back to today's high school students.
Robinson said, "Just knowing that there are teachers out there that care for us really helps."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.