Steamboat graduate shaped by community |

Steamboat graduate shaped by community

Dobell overcomes health issue with help from family, friends, teachers

Jack Weinstein

Graduating Steamboat Springs High School senior Kathleen Dobell is looking forward to receiving her diploma at today’s ceremony at the high school. Dobell plans on attending Dartmouth in the fall.

Graduating Steamboat Springs High School senior Kathleen Dobell is looking forward to receiving her diploma at today's ceremony at the high school. Dobell plans on attending Dartmouth in the fall.
John F. Russell

— Steamboat Springs High School senior Kathleen Dobell credits the community for helping mold her into the person she has become.

Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Dobell said her family, friends and teachers all contributed to her growth. And she said the community helped get her through a tough time.

At the end of Dobell's freshman year, she was admitted for a month to The Children's Hospital in Denver for health issues from anorexia. She said nothing specific led to her eating disorder, but the transition to high school was difficult for her.

Dobell said she continued to deal with issues related to her anorexia during the summer and again was hospitalized for a month at the beginning of her sophomore year. For the rest of the year, she traveled to Denver every other week for checkups, missing two days of school those weeks.

Dierdre Boyd, who taught Dobell's sophomore American studies class, was one of the people who helped her "recover and move forward," Dobell said. Boyd remembers it differently.

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"It was as if Kathleen never missed a beat," Boyd said about Dobell's return to class. "The thing about Kathleen, she never made excuses for herself, never used it as a crutch. She just went above and beyond."

Boyd, who taught Dobell's Advanced Placement U.S. history class this year, said she hasn't looked back to her freshman and sophomore year struggles. Dobell is looking ahead to attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., in the fall. She hopes to incorporate anthropology, international affairs and science to someday work in environmental conservation. Dobell said the experience with anorexia taught her perseverance and the important things in life.

"I really feel now because of what I went through that I don't like doing things without doing my best," she said. "I try my hardest in everything I do for the smallest to most significant."

Dobell and the rest of the Class of 2010 will graduate at 2 p.m. today in the high school gymnasium.

Danica Moss, the high sch­­ool's career and college cou­nselor, said Dobell was awarded $136,000 to help pay for her four-year education at Dartmouth. Moss said Dobell is one of many standout students in the Class of 2010, of which 148 are expected to graduate.

Moss said the seniors earned more than $671,000 in scholarships for the 2010-11 academic year. That includes more than $144,000 in scholarships provided by local organizations

By comparison, last year's seniors — a smaller class of 122 — earned more than $340,000 in scholarships for their first years of college.

Moss called this year's seniors the "golden class," not because of their academic or athletic achievements, but because of their behavior this year. She called them respectful and mature.

"Their character as a whole is fantastic," she said.

Principal Kevin Taulman said the class' achievements stood out, citing academic and athletic scholarships (two Division 1 full rides) and acceptance to great schools.

"This is a great senior class," he said. "I think the senior class really dictates what kind of year you're going to have. With their positive leadership throughout the year, it's made the 2009-10 year a successful year."

Dobell said she recently reflected upon her journey through high school — from the intimidation of being a freshman to this year's comfort, so much that it was like a second home.

Before she heads east, she'll work at Steaming Bean and 7th Street Boutique. She'll continue volunteering as a senior mentor to an 8-year-old girl for Partners in Routt County, which she's done for the past two years. And she hopes to hike and backpack this summer.

Although she said it's nice to move forward and is excited to take the next step in her life, Dobell said there's some anxiety to moving away from something so familiar.

"Steamboat has really made me who I am today," she said. "I was fortunate to grow up here and live here my whole life. I wouldn't go where I'm going without the support of the community and my school."

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs High School graduation ceremony

When: 2 p.m. today

Where: Steamboat Springs High School gym

Parking: Shuttle buses will run from the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot to the school starting at 12:15 p.m.

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