Steamboat Springs senior Robert “Hondo” Anderson stands in front of the Steamboat Springs High School.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs senior Robert “Hondo” Anderson stands in front of the Steamboat Springs High School.

Steamboat senior fights through challenges, graduates Saturday

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs High School graduation

  • Saturday, June 4, 2011, 2 p.m.
  • Steamboat Springs High School, 45 Maple St., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / Free

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YVS to celebrate grads

The Yampa Valley School will recognize three graduates during a ceremony at 1 p.m. today on the lawn of the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street. The Class of 2011 members are Kyle Bolton, Danilo Farias and Kody Mayhew. Teacher Dan Juba said each senior added something different to the alternative school.

Juba said Mayhew plans to attend community college or vocational school to learn how to design video games. He said Bolton and Farias plan to join the workforce.

Whiteman sends off 20

The Lowell Whiteman School Academic Dean Meg Morse said of 20 graduates in the Class of 2011, 18 will attend four-year colleges or universities and two will defer their collegiate plans to pursue ski and snowboard careers.

Morse said graduates would attend schools from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., to Oregon’s Reed College. She said they earned nearly $500,000 in scholarships for their four-year educations.

The Class of 2011 has traveled the world and competed in winter athletics at the highest levels, Morse said. She said the group is driven and goal-oriented.

“They’ve had these amazingly wide experiences,” Morse said. “Even though they’re so different, it’s helped bring them together as a class. They have a really strong sense of who they are as a class and what they want to accomplish as a class.”

The Class of 2011 will graduate at 2 p.m. today in the Dariel Henderson Gymnasium on the campus off Routt County Road 36.

Robert “Hondo” Anderson never felt sorry for himself.

Anderson, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, has taken a different path to Saturday’s graduation ceremony than many of his peers in the Class of 2011. More than five years ago at age 12, Anderson suffered a traumatic brain injury after a snowboarding accident at Howelsen Hill.

He still struggles. Anderson said he still has issues with balance and memory. He said it sometimes takes him longer to take tests.

And in the past two years, Anderson has dealt with significant swelling and pain in his joints. He said it was the type of pain that made it difficult to get out of bed, walk or even hold a pencil. It’s treated with monthly shots of penicillin.

Those who know him well said he never complained, never stopped working and never stopped succeeding. They said he doesn’t really let anyone know what he’s going through.

“Hondo is a kid who kind of typifies just overcoming adversity and doing the best with the hand that you’re dealt and staying positive,” said Luke DeWolfe, the high school’s athletic director and varsity basketball coach. “I think a lot of people and kids feel sorry for themselves when things go bad. He’s just a positive, positive kid who works hard with everything he does.”

At 2 p.m. Saturday, Anderson will receive his high school diploma with the rest of the 160 members of the Class of 2011. He’ll leave the high school with a 3.8 GPA and attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins next fall to study neuroscience.

“It’s like a good feeling, a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that through all the bumps in the road and curveballs, I’m graduating,” Anderson said. “It would have been easy to push off school, wait a while or just use this stuff going on as an excuse to start to slack. But I fought through, only missed a couple of days of school, and I made it.”

Anderson’s mother, Laura, who works for the district as a technology support specialist, said whether her son would graduate wasn’t an issue. She said he has a strong character and is goal-oriented and driven.

But Laura Anderson said her son didn’t do it alone. She praised his friends, doctors, physical therapists and coaches for helping him along the way.

“He was able to keep moving forward not only because he’s driven and he has it inside himself,” she said, “but he has a great network of friends and people around him that were willing to help.”

Danica Moss, the high school’s career and college counselor, said Anderson excelled academically while maintaining a job at Ace at the Curve, volunteering as a youth mentor for Partners in Routt County, staying active with Anchor Way Baptist Church and playing varsity basketball.

“It’s truly unbelievable what he’s gone through and his path to get to this point,” Moss said. “I have other students with 3.8 GPAs who don’t compare to him because he’s had to work so much harder. He’s going to be really successful at CSU because of his work ethic.”

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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