Grad's dreams run from modems to musicals

Posted: Friday, June 02, 2000

Scott Moeller wants to design computers, Colleen Dilts hopes to act in musicals, and Brandy Pavitt would like to own a massage business someday.

They'll continue working on their dreams after they graduate from Juneau-Douglas High School this week.

Moeller, 18, has been engaged by computers since he was in a small private school in fifth grade, he said. Even then he started programming computers in the old BASIC language.

His parents bought computers and periodically upgraded them. But ``it's tough to play with things when you're playing with a family machine,'' he said. ``There are risks to weigh.''

Two years ago, Moeller bought the parts to build his own computers. Now he'll take those skills to the University of Illinois at Urbana to study computer engineering.

``A large part of it is freedom of creativity,'' Moeller said of his career choice. ``I like technology and I excel in math and science.''

Moeller said it's fun to solve problems creatively. When his tent poles ended up in a river during a Chilkoot Trail hike a few years ago, he suspended the tent from ropes tied to trees.

And Moeller, who has severe asthma, improvised a compressor to vaporize his medicine during a caribou hunt above the Arctic Circle, when he didn't have electricity. Despite the asthma, Moeller swims, skis, trains with weights and plays soccer for a city Parks and Recreation team.


A student for four years in the alternative Phoenix program, which just ended its final year, Moeller is working on a straight A average.

``It was, for me, a great program,'' Moeller said. ``It was motivating. I enjoyed bringing my work to the public, which is made possible through projects and some of our assessments, as well.''

School was hard work, and he may have missed some socializing because of his priorities. ``But I wouldn't enjoy my time at home to do whatever I wanted ... if it weren't for the times I'm really busy.''

The Juneau-Douglas High School graduation is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday in the gym. Tickets are required.

A drug- and alcohol-free party is scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School. This is a change from a previously advertised venue.

The party -- which will include music, food, prizes and a carnival -- is free and open to seniors, who may bring one guest. A parental donation of $35 would be appreciated, organizers said. No one will be admitted after 11 p.m.

Besides taking choir and drama at JDHS, Colleen Dilts, 18, has used the broader community to prepare her for a career in musical theater. She'll attend the University of Nevada at Las Vegas this fall to study performing arts.

The singer/dancer/actor has studied ballet nearly all her life and has performed, choreographed and taught with Juneau Dance Unlimited. She'll run from graduation Saturday afternoon to put on her makeup and prepare for performances that night in two dance pieces.

She has acted with Perseverance Theatre, interned in its administration and taught children there in the summer. She has taken acting workshops at the University of Alaska Southeast and participated in the reading of ``Our Town'' for Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre.

And Dilts has studied voice with Joyce Parry Moore and performed for the Juneau Lyric Opera, Opera to Go, and in the high school musical ``42nd Street.''

``I think everyone really wants to change the world in some way, really wants to leave their mark,'' Dilts said. ``When I go to the theater is when I'm most affected.''

The arts say a lot about life, politics and people, she said. And performances let audiences laugh and cry at themselves from an outside perspective.

``I'd like to change the world one person at a time. If I can go on the stage and change the way they think or the way they look at the world, that's what I want to do,'' Dilts said.

Dilts is also grateful for an academic education at JDHS. She was in French and business clubs, and was part of winning teams for two years in the state National Ocean Science Bowl. And she credits teacher George Gress with helping her grow as a writer in Advanced Placement English, where 45-minute essays are required.

``I think it's really important for an artist to be well-rounded,'' Dilts said.

Brandy Pavitt, 18, has been saving her money to travel for a year and visit family in the Lower 48. Then she might attend a vocational school in Anchorage to become a masseuse and someday own a business.

Her uncle, Juneau chiropractor Corey Pavitt, has encouraged her. Being a masseuse takes strength, endurance and the ability to talk to people, she said.

``It seems like a pretty good profession and I have a talent for it,'' she said. ``It's not just a physical thing. You have to be able to talk the stress out of people. Just want to help people out of pain.''

Pavitt has experienced a diversity of programs at JDHS. She was in the regular high school in freshman year, then the CHOICE program for two years, and finished up at Yaakoosge Daakahidi, the alternative high school.

There were too many people in the regular high school's classrooms, and not enough one-on-one with the teachers, Pavitt said. ``The teachers there, I honestly don't think they care. They just want to push you through.''

In CHOICE -- Choosing Healthy Options in Cooperative Education -- Pavitt found more hands-on education and closer relations with teachers.

``If there was no CHOICE, I honestly don't think I'd be graduating. (Teacher) Laury Scandling is my hero. Without her, none of this would be possible,'' Pavitt said.

When she was bored and depressed and didn't come to school for two weeks, Scandling found her, Pavitt said.

``Laury is literally like a second mom to me. ... When I was down and out, she helped me through it.''

In her senior year, Pavitt tried the regular high school, but she was uncomfortable being placed with freshmen and she had friends at Yaakoosge.

``They challenge you here. They make you do the work. You get to go on field trips all the time,'' Pavitt said.

The next field trip will be life.

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