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Flagstaff High seniors continue the adventure after high school
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Flagstaff High seniors continue the adventure after high school


Third in a series

For three Flagstaff High School grads college will be continuation of the adventures they started as teenagers.

Jackson Gilmore

Jackson Gilmore won’t be taking the summer off between his senior year of high school and freshman year of college. He will spend nearly four months in the wilds of Alaska running the kitchen at a hunting lodge.

In order to get to the lodge, Gilmore will have to take a commercial flight from Arizona to Anchorage, Alaska, a smaller plane from Anchorage to a smaller airport in the interior, then a float plane loaded with supplies from that airport to the lodge.

Gilmore is a member of the FHS Culinary Competitive Team. He’s taken culinary classes at FHS since his freshman year, when he signed up because there were no other electives available. He quickly fell in love with cooking and this year won a $20,000 scholarship to any school at the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program competition.

He plans to attend Southern Oregon State University and its Hospitality program, where he also has a $40,000 merit scholarship.

Gilmore hopes to continue to work at the lodge each summer throughout his college years.

“It’s different. Everyone who is up there wants to be up there,” he said.

The day there starts around 4:30 a.m. with Gilmore preparing lunch and breakfast for the campers/hunters. It ends around 11 p.m. after Gilmore and the other employees at the lodge guide some of the guests back from the night fishing spots.

All of the employees at the lodge pitch in with any work that has to be done, he said. If something breaks on your watch, you have to fix it, he said. That’s how he learned how to repair a generator last summer.

The lodge is so remote that all of the food, supplies and necessities have to be flown in and resupply flights are infrequent. Last summer, Gilmore took about 110 pounds worth of clothing and equipment with him, including several recipes.

There’s no wifi, internet or cellphone signal out there, so you have to take everything with you, he said. There’s no looking up a recipe on the fly. The lodge does have a satellite phone for emergencies.

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Gilmore learned about the lodge through the Northern Arizona Fly Casters, a group he belongs to. They had a speaker come and talk about the lodge. Gilmore approached the man after the meeting and they were able to work something out.

Gilmore’s dream job would to be open a similar lodge somewhere in Colorado with fishing during the summer and hunting during the fall.

His advice is “Get involved. Life’s short. The best decision I ever made was talking to that guy after the meeting. Get involved with clubs in and outside of school, build connections.”

He said his activity in FHS’ Culinary Competitive Team allowed him to collect a wallet full of business cards to chefs all over the state. Those are people that he knows he can call to ask questions and get tips from.

Jessi Harmon

Jessi Harmon hopes to fly helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps when she graduates from the Virginia Military Institute. Service in the U.S. military runs in Harmon’s family. Her father serves in the U.S. Navy, one brother is in the U.S. Air Force and she’ll join another brother at VMI.

The first women attended VMI in 1997, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the publicly funded college to exclude women.

Harmon plans to study French and International Studies at VMI. She’s already taken three years of Spanish at Flag High and learned German as a child. She has an interest in foreign languages and cultures and wants to learn as many different languages as she can. She reports to the college on July 31.

Harmon has a full-ride soccer scholarship to VMI. She played varsity soccer at FHS for two years and varsity football for one year. She was also involved in music, theater, archery and the mountain bike team at FHS. She was the president of the Glee Club at her previous high school, the International Boarding School in Sedona. She transferred from IBS to FHS in order to be closer to home and for more educational opportunities.

Her advice to others is to “Wake up. You can do more than you think.”

Peyton Sventek

Peyton Sventek also hopes to fly after college. He wants to become a commercial pilot or an aerospace engineer or both. He plans to attend Purdue University’s aerospace engineering school.

He said he got excited about aviation as a kid when he learned how to fly remote-control planes. He got interested in aerospace engineering after taking a course at FHS. He used his knowledge to design and build an RC plane for his capstone project at FHS. He also earned his private pilot’s license in January.

One of his favorite activities at FHS has been his time on the cross country running team. He hopes to work jet engines or design commercial airplanes.

His advice to his classmates is to “Try new things now while you’re in high school.”

The reporter can be reached at or (928)556-2253.


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Education/Business Reporter

Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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