PINETOP-LAKESIDE — This is an update on several Blue Ridge High School graduates who are now attending elite academies and colleges.

This list of exceptional alumni was compiled by the Blue Ridge Unified School District administration.

The 2019-20 valedictorian, Gretchen Knox, is now attending the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“This year, we announce the appointment of Michelle Basinger to West Point!,” said the school administration. “And, what rural school district has two kids in as many years heading to academies? Blue Ridge!”

The district also has several students heading to tier-one universities across the US.

  • Dylan Baca will be attending Columbia University in New York next fall.
  • Karisa Hoyt will attend Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Emily Blomstrand, St. Olaf School of Music in Northfield, Minnesota.

Blue Ridge alumni are also excelling in athletics. Here are student-athletes heading for collegiate competition:

  • PJ London is attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and will play football.
  • Dimitri Muncy is attending Mayville State University in North Dakota and will play football.
  • Addy Brimhall is attending Utah State Eastern and will play soccer.
  • Gunner Martinez is attending Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado, and will play baseball.
  • Dayle Reed is attending South Mountain Community College and will play softball.
  • Amanda Carlson is attending Ottawa University and will play volleyball.
  • Cheyenne Higgins is attending Ottawa University in Kansas and will play volleyball.
  • Ariela Santana is attending Ottawa University in Kansas and will play volleyball.
  • Michelle Basinger is attending the US Military Academy West Point in New York and will play softball.
  • Madi Jones is attending Lawrence University Wisconsin and will play soccer.

From the superintendent

“These high-performing young adults exemplify how our schools help prepare students to learn and progress depending on how hard they are willing to work,” said Superintendent Michael L. Wright. “It’s challenging to argue our kids are ill-prepared with back-to-back appointments to elite military academies and admissions to tier-one universities such as Columbia and Vanderbilt every year. Such results speak to the level of education our highly qualified teachers provide dedicated, hard-working kids. We are proud of all our graduates of the Class of 2021 and remain impressed by their collective character and accomplishments.”

Reach the reporter at

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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