Arihmar Rico Yanez, her parents and sister posed together after she received her Frontier Academy High School Diploma Tuesday night. WyoToday photo by Ernie Over.

By Ernie Over


RIVERTON – The board room at the Central Office of Fremont County School District #25 in Riverton was filled with smiles and a few tears as the latest student to graduate from Frontier Academy received her diploma Tuesday night. Arihmar Rico Yanez wasn’t at the Academy for long, only about three weeks, but she made up the credit she needed to graduate and she expressed her thanks to the room. But first …

Frontier Academy Counselor Sarah Hughes introduced Yanez and said she could’ve raced through the program to get her diploma quickly, “but that is not how she shows up. She’s bright with a warm wit and she is courageous,” Hughes said. “She was always there to lend a helping hand.” Hughes said Yanez leaves every space “better and better due to her presence.” She explained that the new graduate helped others at the school reach their goals while she reached hers. The audience giggled a bit when Hughes said Yanez even brought in produce from a garden to share. “I have no doubt she will make a beautiful impact on life. We are proud to call you a Phoenix.” 

Speaking for herself, Yanez gave thanks to the school board who gave her the opportunity to finish her diploma. “I was really disappointed that I didn’t finish at the high school but it ended up one of the best things I’ve ever done. I met new people and became really close with people,” she said. “I want to say thank you to Christina; she was there and helped me. Just going there changed the way I view a lot of stuff. They helped me, that school. I was only there for three weeks, but in that short amount of time I kept learning about myself and Frontier became a part of my family. I also want to thank all of my family, especially my parents. I put them through a lot through high school, but they were there every single moment and never left my side. They continued to help me no matter what I was going through. Thank you to my grandparents, who came from another country to give their kids and grandkids an opportunity they never had, and that means the world to me. And thanks to all my family for supporting me no matter what. I know they will always be there. Special thanks to my sister. Even though we were a pain in each other’s butts, I love her more than ever, and even though we fight, we’ll always be together. Thank you again. This one opportunity has helped me finish and now I can go on to something new. [I] can’t wait to start it,” she said. 

Superintendent Dr. JoAnn Andre-Flanagan said she loved to listen to these stories, and noted that she picks up key words from the presentation. “When I heard Sarah speak about you as a leader, with grit and goals, and as you spoke I heard things like family, perseverance, and opportunity,” she said. “It was just an opportunity until you took advantage of us. You now know you can do it, and you don’t have to do it by yourself. Having the school available was more than just getting a credit, remember that. When one door closes, another opens. That will happen to you throughout life, and now you know how to do it.”