Gavin Arneson of Clear Creek High School was singled out from 26,000 applicants nationwide to receive the National Honor Society Scholarship April 27, 2017. His picture graced the front page of the The Denver Post on Sunday, May 14th, labeled "from bottom to top."
Not only will Gavin graduate as valedictorian of his class later this month, but he's risen to the top in so many ways, including community service and leadership roles on the student council and with service clubs. His integrity and respect are often cited when people talk about him.
But what makes this a real story is that Gavin was homeless twice in his 18 years, dealing with his parents' alcoholism. He and a brother lived with his mother in a homeless shelter in Nebraska for awhile; six years ago they moved in with their father near St. Mary's Glacier.
Determined not to become a homeless boy who would grow up to be a homeless person, Gavin applied himself at school and became involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, channeling his energy into helping others.
Gavin's worked two jobs a week since he was a Freshman, helping to pay the rent. His dad, who suffered from diabetes, was blind and unable to work. But he found his father dead in December, and Gavin was evicted two days later because the $600/month he'd been giving his dad to pay the rent had been used to buy alcohol instead.
He was homeless again.
Because Gavin had already turned 18, the coroner treated him as an adult, not offering the kind of resources or support that would have been offered to a teenager who'd not yet passed 17. Between his older brother who was attending college on the Western Slope and relatives in Fort Collins, they helped him piece together what would become his final semester in high school. Teachers and others aware of his situation pitched in to help him keep on track. He attributes his rise above adversity in large part to the people in Clear Creek County who helped him persevere.
The National Honor Society scholarship is for $20,125. Gavin plans to attend New York University where he will major in nursing thanks to a four-year full-tuition scholarship from NYU.