Ashlyn Simpson finds larger sense of self in Moffat County while keeping small-town personality
For Craig Press
For many Moffat County High School graduates, life in a small town is something they either wholly embrace or look to leave behind for something bigger.
For Ashlyn Simpson, MCHS was the bigger experience.
Ashlyn moved to Craig from Kemmerer, Wyoming in November 2019 with her mother and siblings Makaela, Laine and Raegan following her parents’ divorce.
Ashlyn noted that the top three candidates for a new town were Rangely, Rifle and Craig.
“We liked the views better here. In Rifle, I swear every road I took it was like being taken out of it on those roundabouts,” she said. “Rangely was just too small, I guess, and that’s what we came from, since Kemmerer is about 2,000 people. We wanted to have a change and more people and a bigger school.”
Living most of her life in rural Wyoming, Ashlyn noted that she was born in Salina, Utah and briefly lived in Germany as a baby while her father was in Iraq.
She’s always been a small-town girl at heart, and the community of Craig was a good fit in many ways.
“This place has its mountains, it’s very Republican, everyone likes to hunt and fish and everything I grew up with,” she said.
Even so, she struggled somewhat at first to find her place at MCHS.
“It’s definitely hard to make friends when everyone knows who their friends are by junior year and they have their cliques,” she said.
Not making matters any better was the COVID pandemic of 2020, and quarantine was not something she enjoyed.
“I think it was frustrating for everyone. It sucked being at home all the time with nothing to do and no one to talk to, and you’re just glued to your phone or TV. That was really hard,” she said.
Ashlyn started a job at Ocean Pearl last August, and as MoCo students slowly returned to school in the fall, she was looking forward to getting back into sports, though she would have to wait until spring to compete in volleyball again, as she and Makaela each suited up for the varsity team.
“Volleyball definitely helped the friend situation,” she said.
While at MCHS, Ashlyn also fostered two interests she anticipates following professionally: elementary education and welding.
“For my independent study, I go down to Sunset and help second-graders and fifth-graders do math and English,” she said. “I’ve always really loved children. I love their imagination. They’re so funny, and they’re better to get along with than adults, I’d say. They’re new at life and ready to learn and optimistic.”
As for the latter, she said she enjoyed being in a welding class despite it being a “boys atmosphere.”
“I was the only girl in my advanced welding class for two years,” he said. “I’d say I was pretty dang good at it. Putting metal together, it’s really fun to see how steady and good your welds turn out.”
While Ashlyn had a shorter time to get into the student body at Moffat County, her sister credited her with helping her get through her freshman and sophomore years.
“I think me and Ashlyn got really close, since I didn’t really know how to make new friends. I didn’t think I’d make any, but I did and so did she,” Makaela said. “She’s my other set of eyes. She stands up for me whenever she hears anything. I can always rely on her.”
Among the many pickup trucks in the student parking lot is what Makaela refers to as Ashlyn’s “baby”: a refurbished 1985 Chevy Scottsdale with a sparkling blue paint job.
After graduation, she’ll likely be seeing Craig in the rear-view mirror at some point, though she hasn’t set a definitive plan yet. While she expects to continue her education, she’s waiting to save money and take the time to find a program that suits her, whether it’s a four-year college or a vocational arrangement.
“I don’t know if it’ll be a year or two months, but I want to be sure I know what I want to do. I don’t want to go to school not having a plan or having a major. I don’t want to waste money on classes I don’t even want,” she said. “I do want to go back to Wyoming because it is my home state.”
Ashlyn noted that her time at MCHS was overall positive as it helped her grow personally.
“It was a good opportunity moving here, meeting new people and experiencing a new change and a new environment and understanding how other people work,” she said.
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