A Grand Celebration: Classes of 2016 and the National Park Service Centennial

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Date: June 2, 2016
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393

MOOSE, WY —In commemoration of the National Park Service Centennial and the goal to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, Grand Teton National Park created an unique relationship with local 2016 graduating seniors for the past four years.

The park adopted the incoming freshman classes from Jackson Hole and Summit High Schools in 2012 with the intent of engaging them with the park and the National Park Service. The park has offered a variety of opportunities for the students throughout their high school career. 

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela will be the keynote speaker and address the seniors during the Jackson Hole High School commencement ceremony this Saturday, June 4. Vela said, "It is truly a grand celebration and honor to be involved with the graduating class of 2016. These remarkable young adults are beginning a new journey, and we encourage them to explore their heritage reflected in National Park Service sites and stories across the country, and always know they are welcome to their home park, Grand Teton National Park." Superintendent Vela will present the graduating seniors with a commemorative park coin. 

Students participated in many special initiatives and learning opportunities during the four-year relationship between the classes and the park. Classes of 2016 attended a National Park Service Career Day to meet park scientists, interpreters, climbing rangers and a variety of other occupations, as well as learn about the ecology and history of the park. There were scholarships and after-school internship opportunities. Several students were involved as "ranger club mentors" and provided leadership for an after-school club for younger students. Biology trips allowed students to explore the scientific data needed to manage park resources, as well as activities that created a deeper appreciation and understanding of stewardship and wilderness principles. 

The classes of 2016 visited the park recently to view the film, The Grand Rescue. The film highlights a 1967 intense rescue off the North Face of the Grand Teton. The film's director and two of the original rescuers, Ted Wilson and Rick Reese, shared their stories with the students, including lessons in adversity and leadership. Grand Teton National Park rangers and climbing guides from Exum Mountain Guides lead the seniors through hands-on challenges with climbing and rescue equipment. Eight seniors took a leadership role and prepared teambuilding initiatives for their classmates to showcase how working as a team helps to solve challenges. One senior commented, "I've never even talk to some of these kids at school, but sometimes you need to know your own strengths aren't enough, and you need each other to solve a problem."

The four-year program was sponsored in part by the Grand Teton Association.


Last updated: June 2, 2016

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