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South Valley Journal

Student Spotlight: Riverton student who turned her life around graduated early

Jun 04, 2020 12:19PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Of all the lessons Annalyn McCay learned in her years at Riverton High School, the most important was to learn from her mistakes.

Anna began as a promising sophomore, but her progress veered off-course because of poor life choices. Her grades suffered, and she lost her spot on the school volleyball team.

“I got in with a bad group of friends,” Anna said. “It took getting in trouble enough times to finally figure out that that's not what I wanted to do. So, I ended up making different friends and ended up in a way better place than I would have if I decided to stay friends with them.”

Anna said her chemistry teacher Andrew Powers helped influence her turnaround. As she was struggling to figure out herself and her relationships with friends, she found Powers’ subtle life lessons empowering. She said he was friendly with the students and encouraged self-respect and independent thinking.

“He just seemed to really care about his students and how we felt,” she said. “That always really stood out to me.”

Powers was surprised and touched to learn that he had such an effect on a student. Many students love his class for his fun and interactive teaching style. However, he believes true success in teaching comes from getting to know students through solid relationships of respect.

“I try to have little conversations with each student and let them feel that they are a valued person in my classroom and not just someone in a desk,” Powers said.

Anna graduated early in January and will be attending Utah State University to major in psychology. She hopes to become a therapist.

Principal Carolyn Gough is impressed with Anna’s course correction.

“We have watched as Anna has turned her whole life around and completed required courses in order to graduate early,” she said. “She has really gone from a difficult place to one of success.”

Anna is proud of how far she’s come in her journey of self-discovery.

“Although I made bad decisions, and it would have been a lot easier for me if I just did what I thought was right, I'm glad that I made those mistakes so that I could learn from them,” she said. “I personally believe I'm a better person from it, so I think it's worth it.”