Grand Valley High School freshman proposes town flag designs for Parachute |

Grand Valley High School freshman proposes town flag designs for Parachute

Grand Valley High School freshman Aidan Alstatt works on designing a flag for the town of Parachute in the school library Jan. 25.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

No city in Garfield County has an official town flag. Grand Valley High School freshman Aidan Alstatt hopes to change that.

On Jan. 19, Alstatt, 15, presented several flag designs for Parachute Town Council to consider for official adoption. Alstatt designed each concept himself using a computer program called Pixlr.

“I’m self-taught,” Alstatt said on Jan. 25. “I haven’t really gone to any classes for it. I just taught myself all the techniques I know.”

Designs vary among the several options presented by Alstatt to the town council, but each one is symbolic of the Grand Valley. Some include sunsets, the Colorado River and, of course, the mountains of Battlement Mesa. One is also marked by number 1908, the year Parachute was founded.

Town Manager Travis Elliot invited Alstatt to present his ideas publicly. This was after Alstatt had sent a design to Elliot’s email address.

“I also want to commend Mr. Alstatt,” Elliot said. “I spoke at a freshman class event about community engagement and getting involved with the community, and Aidan has clearly knocked it out of the park.”

Alstatt admitted he was a little nervous before the presentation. It’s not every day a young teenager makes a proposal to any city council.

“It was terrifying,” Alstatt said. “I’ve never really been in front of, like, government in any sense.”

But after highlighting all the details, explaining why he decided to incorporate what elements, Alstatt quickly learned a valuable lesson in small-town discourse.

“People will listen,” he said. “They’re not just going to boo you off stage. It’s not everything I feared it would be.”

Parachute Town Council treated Alstatt’s presentation like any other agenda item. The proposal was heard and the council soon opened it up for discussion and feedback.

Council member Artemio Baltazar, a first-grade teacher at the Grand Valley Center for Learning, pointed out that this is a great learning experience for Alstatt.

“As a teacher, even just having you up here is just great,” Baltazar said. “You’re doing it, you’re presenting, you’re talking in front of people and you’re being part of the community.” 

Grand Valley High School freshman Aidan Alstatt working with his laptop in the school library Jan. 25.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

This civic experience also allowed Alstatt to learn more about his hometown. Council suggested incorporating into his designs what’s called the Parachute Penstemon, an extremely rare and endangered flower found only on the Roan Plateau near Parachute.

“When they say they’re endangered, they’re not kidding,” Alstatt said. “Like, there’s only three images of it that exist.”

Council member Rory Birdsey called Alstatt’s proposal awesome and said it sparked a lot of interest.

Birdsey went on to suggest pairing up a graphic designer with Alstatt to work on a final design.

“You definitely get some good color schemes going on,” he told Alstatt. “How you present it with eight different ideas and bringing representation to the history of it is something we should definitely have a conversation in the future with, for sure.”

Parachute Mayor Tom Rugaard said he wanted to see something that truly identifies “who we are” as an area, perhaps adding something indicative of the Battlement Mesa community.

He also called Alstatt’s proposal “a cool idea.”

“I’d love to see what you come up with,” he said.

Alstatt is currently back at the drawing board. He said he’s focusing on creating something that conforms exactly to Parachute Town Council’s feedback. 

If Parachute adopts one of Alstatt’s designs, Rugaard said he wants to see the Grand Valley High School student to be the first one walking in any potential parade celebrating the creation of the community’s first flag.

Alstatt said he isn’t an overly-creative person, nor is he that interested in local politics. But he did show interest in simply getting a flag design selected.

“I mean, that’d be pretty awesome,” he said. “I’ve only ever done minor projects for organizations before. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office asked me to do a couple things for them in graphic design.

“This would be the first citywide sort of thing I’ve done, which is pretty cool.”

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