A Montezuma-Cortez high school student and counselor were honored with awards at the Colorado Association of Career and Technical Education annual conference July 16 in Grand Junction.
Senior Amanda Haukeness was awarded as an outstanding student in the technical fields. And career guidance counselor Cindy Bonitz-Ryan was awarded for her dedication and success promoting college and technical training.
“Amanda was one of three in the state who earned the honor,” said Ed Rice, technical education director for Re-1 schools. “Cindy was the only counselor in the state to earn the award. We’re very proud of both of them.”
Haukeness excelled in emergency and fire management courses at MCHS, said her instructor Lori Mott.
“She always volunteered to be the leader during scenarios, and naturally became a mentor to younger students in the fire science class,” Mott said.
Haukeness joined the Cortez Fire Department as a volunteer cadet, and completed multiple fire fighting and rescue classes.
“She chose not to attend junior prom because fighting a structure fire that night was more important for her,” Mott said.
Haukeness was chosen as Volunteer Firefighter of the Year for 2014, and was recently hired by the Cortez Fire Department as a part time firefighter.
“She’s earned the respect of experienced firefighters who are not easily impressed,” Mott said.
Cindy Bonitz-Ryan, has a 27-year career as a high school counselor, with the last six years at MCHS. She was nominated for the award by Rice.
“Cindy is devoted to making sure every student gets the maximum amount of exposure to college and career opportunities,” Rice said.
Beyond talking with students about their post-high school plans, Ryan works closely with parents on college and career options for their children. Each year she leads tours of college campuses across the state, organizes college fairs, and offers information on technical schools and military careers.
“It was a real honor to be recognized,” Ryan said. “Our focus is on kids continuing their education after high school because it gives them more career options.”
Kids are smarter these days, Ryan added, and are more aware of the expenses of college. To ease the financial burden, many of them get a job after high school.
“That is OK, but we still encourage them to take one or two community college courses to keep their skills up,” she said. “Even if a student is going to take over the family farm after graduation, taking businesses courses will help them be successful.”