Lindsey Smith turns everything around for graduation |

Lindsey Smith turns everything around for graduation

Lindsey Smith holds up “’21” balloons during her graduation party.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Coal Ridge High School senior Lindsey Smith played hooky quite often when her parents got separated.

“I started ditching and all that stuff, because of my parent’s divorce,” she said. “But, later, I found out that I am so much more than, you know, a person that is ditching and not living up to my full potential. And then I raised my expectations about myself and just became a better person, a better me.”

Smith didn’t start high school at Coal Ridge. Instead, she lived with her mother, starting at Glenwood Springs High School before making her way to Grand Valley High School.

Things weren’t going well for Smith. Her grades suffered because of her frequent absences.

After moving into her father and stepmother’s house in New Castle, she was able to turn her life around. To do so, she had to cram “four years of high school into two years,” she said.

“Yeah, it was really hard, tough, stressful, you know?” she said. “There were many many times that I just felt like I just couldn’t do it, and I just wanted to give up, like there was no way I could do this.”

Had you asked Smith a few years ago, she said she would’ve never guessed she’d be this close to graduating.

“Honestly, if you would have asked me about seeing myself graduate I would have said no, I’m dropping out,” she said. “Like, my whole life changes as soon as I moved to my dad’s and my stepmom’s.”

Her father’s name is Steven Michael Smith. Her stepmom’s name is Summer Meils.

Smith’s grade point average when she became a student at Coal Ridge was a 0.00104. She was a junior at this time. Hitting the books as hard as she could, Smith catapulted her GPA to 3.5.

In addition to turning her grades around, Smith also took up cheer, helping the Titans win two state titles between her junior and senior years.

These experiences, among others, will be her fondest, she said.

“Oh yeah, and the relationships that I built with my teachers at Coal Ridge, and, honestly, seeing my grades change from all Fs, to As and Bs.”

Smith now has her sights set on attending Colorado Mountain College, where she’ll study nursing and Qualified Medication Administration Personnel (QMAP) training.

Coming this far, she has her parents to thank.

“I want to thank my dad and my mom. And my siblings, and all of my friends and all of my teachers. And the love of my life, Nick Willey.”

With her final moments of high school just two days away, Smith has learned important lessons from her past.

“Never give up building relationships with everyone,” she said. “I need to try to see the positive out of everything and not the negative. I worked hard for what I deserve and want.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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