Rifle High School grad perseveres through spinal disease to earn diploma
Citizen Telegram Editor
Receiving a high school diploma comes after 12 years of education and hard work for all graduates.
Some, though, persevere through other personal challenges and hurdles as well. The Class of 2014 is no exception.
Raigan Holgate received her diploma during Rifle High School’s commencement exercise on Saturday, May 24, along with 137 classmates. She did so after being diagnosed in her sophomore year with a degenerative disc disease in her spine.
“I had to quit track and basketball,” Holgate said. “Then I had 18 injections and had four pins and two rods inserted into my vertebrates.”
She missed most of her junior year, but managed to keep her grades up at home, “thanks to some awesome teachers and friends who brought my homework home,” Holgate said.
“The spinal injections made it so I couldn’t sit in class, so I had to stay home,” she added.
Holgate said her parents – her mom, Kristine Costanzo; her stepfather, Kip Costanzo; and her father, Ken Holgate – all helped her keep up her school work and financially with her medical treatments.
“My mom is a nurse, so she helped get me into and out of bed,” Holgate said. “She was my rock and I had a lot of spiritual support, too, from my church. But I’m not upset at God or anything.
“I’m proud to graduate,” she continued. “I wanted to make sure I did and worked to keep my grades up” while she couldn’t attend school.
To replace the athletic activities, Holgate started working with children at the nursery at Rocky Mountain Baptist Church in Rifle and this June, she will compete in the Miss Teen Colorado pageant.
“Then I want to go to the Miss Colorado USA pageant and maybe have a pageantry career,” Holgate added.
Holgate’s senior year at Rifle was also highlighted by the girls basketball team asking her to make an appearance during the Senior Night game.
“They brought me my jersey and I managed to get in for a few minutes,” Holgate said.
Holgate, who graduated with a 3.8 grade point average, plans to attend the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs in the fall to major in either public relations or primary education. She received a $1,000 scholarship from the school.
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.