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On Wednesday, February 7, Colorado Mesa University hosted a special appreciation event for Mesa County Valley School District 51 counselors in honor of National School Counseling Week, Feb. 5-9. The event, held in the CMU University Center Ballroom, welcomed area counselors from the elementary, middle and high schools of Mesa County. CMU welcomed around 100 school counselors to celebrate their invaluable contribution to student success and well-being. 

The morning began with a welcome breakfast, setting the stage for CMU President John Marshall and D51 Superintendent Brian Hill to remark on the importance of counselors and highlight the Where We Become Mavericks partnership between the university and the school district. The program also included testimonials from students whose lives were transformed by the attention and care of their former counselors. Marshall introduced the testimonial tributes, acknowledging the pivotal role counselors play in shaping students' futures. Stacey Keever was one such counselor in attendance. 

“We spend a lot of time with each of the students making sure that they're vested in what was going to happen to them after high school. That's a big part for us and being able to send them off to CMU or CMU Tech is a huge piece for us and encourage them to figure out what they want to do for part of their life or for the rest of their life,” said Grand Junction High School Counselor Stacey Keever. 

A highlight of the event was the student panel, featuring former D51 students turned Mavericks who graduated from District 51 with support from a counselor. Jessica Dollar, Chloe Thomas and Malachi Yeager shared personal stories of how school counselors influenced their lives.  

“In seventh grade I made a promise to myself and to my mom that I was going to go to college, and I was going to go to college for free and so I truly am forever grateful for the counselors. As a first-generation student I had no idea how to pay for college or how to get to college. The counselors essentially have set up my success for my future and for that I'm thankful,” said CMU Senior and former Central High School Warrior Malachi Yeager. 

Marshall highlighted the ongoing Where We Become Mavericks Initiatives that is a program meant to communicate the affordability, accessibility and reachability of college enrollment in the community, aligning with CMU's core values of Love, Dignity, Courage, Humility, Resilience, Curiosity, and Power. 

The event concluded with a "Shout Out" session, allowing participants to express gratitude towards their colleagues, further fostering a spirit of appreciation and camaraderie. Whitney Bonner, director of Admissions, provided closing remarks, highlighting CMU's commitment to making this celebration an annual tradition. She also shared upcoming opportunities for counselors and students, including FAFSA help nights and the Mesa Experience programs, designed to immerse prospective students in the CMU campus experience. 

As the morning wrapped up, attendees left with a renewed sense of purpose and recognition for their crucial role in guiding the next generation. CMU's commitment to celebrating and supporting school counselors not just during National School Counseling Week but throughout the year was shared, marking a significant step towards strengthening the partnership between the university and District 51 schools. 

This event not only paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of school counselors but also highlighted the collaborative efforts between educational institutions to foster a supportive and enriching environment for students across Mesa County. 


Written by David Ludlam