Moffat County High School is now accepting Look At Me Now nominations.
• The deadline for nominating Moffat County High School graduates for the Fall 2008 Look At Me Now award is March 3
• MCHS graduates from 1982 to 2002 are eligible for the award
• Nomination cards are available at the Moffat County High School main office, 900 Finley Lane
• For more information, call 824-7036
It's the advice Jen L. Albee, Moffat County High School alumna, gives to her students at an alternative high school in Wasilla, Alaska.
It's also the force that got Albee through high school and into a successful career, she said.
Albee is one of the six local alumni recognized by Look At Me Now, a program honoring the high school's graduates who have entered successful careers or bettered their community.
Jane Harmon, MCHS principal, said the award was designed to prove that the high school's students can land successful careers after high school, despite local opinions that sometimes say otherwise.
Albee, a 1991 MCHS graduate, was one of those students.
A math teacher at Burchell High School and an adjunct professor at several University of Alaska campuses, Albee holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with minors in Geology and Philosophy.
It wasn't always this way. The teacher with multiple minors said graduating from high school was a struggle.
"I was not the best student in high school," she said, adding that she graduated at the low end of her class.
"People didn't think I'd do much" after high school, she said.
Help came from two sources.
The first was her family.
"My parents are the most amazing parents on the planet," Albee said. "If it wasn't for them, I probably would not have made it. They believed in me when I didn't believe in myself."
The second, high school teachers and administrators who showed they had faith in her. These teachers include School District Superintendent Pete Bergmann and Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan. Bergmann was a science teacher and Sheridan served as principal when Albee attended high school.
Together, they gave her the encouragement she needed to earn her high school cap and gown, she said.
Albee chose to become an alternative high school teacher so she could work with students who, like herself, found high school to be no easy grade.
"I hope I will be an inspiration," Albee said.
So does Harmon.
"We began the program as a way to motivate and inspire our students to reach for their dreams after high school," she said.
For her, the number of MCHS graduates who achieve higher education - including four-year degrees and technical programs - is too low.
"Too often, I have heard statements like, 'What can you expect, I graduated from Moffat County?'" she said.
High school students Josh Satterwhite, Emily Willems and Desiree Holland said they have heard the same from family and community members.
"We get a lot of jokes made about us because our education's not too high," Satterwhite said, adding that his siblings often do the taunting.
Still, he and Holland believe that their education can prepare them for a successful career - if they choose to use it.
"I think it's a choice," Satterwhite said. "You chose to be lazy or you chose to be successful."
Above where they sit in the high school's common area hangs a poster with Albee's picture and her list of accomplishments. Those of other Look At Me Now alumni hang beside it.
"A lot of those posters tell us that we can go and make something of ourselves," Willems said.