Moffat County senior honors include $60K Navy enlistment check

Moffat County senior Brook Wheeler accepts a $60,000 enlistment bonus check from the U.S. Navy on Friday, Sept. 22.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Several Moffat County students were highlighted this past week, including one who earned a big pay day for her future.

Leading up to the MCHS varsity volleyball game Friday night, administrators took a moment to showcase some big Bulldog achievements, among them a sizable military enlistment bonus presentation.

Seniors Carson Laehr, Riley Thompson and Brook Wheeler received the National Rural and Small Town Award for their standout results in recent testing.

Moffat County seniors Cody Duran, Riley Thompson, and Carson Laeher display gift baskets received on Friday, Sept. 22.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The award goes to students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher and outstanding scores on PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10 or AP exams.

The school also took the opportunity to announce one of their other upperclassmen’s plans, with senior Noah Duran recently committing to the United States Marine Corps.

Duran signed with the military branch to focus in motor transportation with a specialty in diesel mechanics.

He noted that he has long planned to serve in the Marines, largely due to family legacy.

“I have always wanted to serve my country,” Duran said. “My dad served in the Marine Corps and my mom in the Navy so it only feels natural for me to enlist. I’m looking forward to seeing the world and all the opportunities that the Marine Corps can offer me as well.”

Moffat County senior Cody Duran accepts a gift basket in honor of his Marines enlistment on Friday, Sept. 22.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Duran, Laehr and Thompson were each presented with a gift basket, though Wheeler had a separate honor. A big one.

Wheeler was joined by Navy personnel for the presentation of a $60,000 check as part of her enlistment last month in the branch’s nuclear engineering program.

The amount is a bonus for those who apply for the prestigious program, said Chief Chris Gates, who presented the check along with Petty Officer Jonathan Granger.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to come up and honor her,” Gates said. “It’s a volunteer service, and if people like her don’t step up and join, then we don’t have a military. The program she’s going into is highly competitive and highly incentivized. It’s not open to everybody.”

Wheeler said she’s excited for the forthcoming experience, which will check the boxes of both education and patriotic service like multiple family members.

Screening such as the Navy Advanced Programs Test is extensive, but she passed it with flying colors.

“It’s a way that I can learn and start my future and not pay an extensive amount of money to do it,” Wheeler said. “I’m really honored to be in this program.”

Moffat County senior Brook Wheeler stands with parents Katie and Jason Wheeler after receiving her Navy enlistment check on Friday, Sept. 22.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Parents Katie and Jason Wheeler were also present for the ceremony. Katie noted that former MoCo administrator Mark Clemmons helped her daughter get the ball rolling on her plans.

“Jason and I are super proud of Brook,” she said. “We are excited about the new doors that the Navy will be opening up for her and cannot wait to see where this journey takes her.”

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