Soft-spoken Kasandra Duran, 18, will graduate from Colo-NESCO High School this May. She admits that right now, the fact that her graduation is about to happen “doesn’t seem real.”

“I never really thought about being a senior,” she said.

Duran came to the Colo-NESCO School District when she was in fifth grade and her family moved to Colo from West Des Moines. The change was huge but very positive for Duran.

“I’ve liked it a whole lot more than being in West Des Moines,” she said. In a smaller school setting, “teachers can talk to you one on one.” It was a big change from the larger classes she was in when she was in West Des Moines.

She started at Colo-NESCO with Mrs. Wilson as a teacher. “She (Wilson) made the transition easier; made sure I was up to date with all my classes.”

Duran’s favorite classes during her school years have been choir and English. “I like to sing and have been involved in the musical and pops concert. I also tried out for All-State,” she said.

As for English, she likes writing stories, mainly fiction.

What she sees for her future is teaching, either music or something else, she said. But first, she plans to take a year off and work to save money for college. “I’d like to go to Iowa State, eventually.”

While in high school, Duran has enjoyed being involved in Future Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). She is currently the Colo-NESCO’s president of that organization. “I feel like I have better communication skills and can present in front of an audience better because of it,” she said. She’s also been active in speech, mentoring, flags and FFA.

“I really like being involved to get to know new people and to try to discover things that would interest me. I’ve had fun participating in school events with my friends.”

Getting involved is something she would encourage younger students — including her own two sisters, Emmee, a junior, and Jessie, an eighth-grader — to do. “Go out for things and stick with it if you do.” Other pieces of advice: “Do not procrastinate (on things, especially homework) and don’t do something just because your friends are doing it…you might find you are interested in other things that they are not interested in.”

The daughter of Joseph and Kathryn Duran, their daughter said she has to note that her mother has probably had the biggest influence on her of anyone in her life. “My mom has pushed me to do things and made sure I stay with things. She’s helped me learn to balance things out.”

Her mother’s work ethic has also made Duran realize that she can accomplish just about anything. “My mom works a lot…she tries to provide for all of us and care for all of us. I really want to make her proud.”

As for the teachers and staff at Colo-NESCO High School, Duran said honestly she can’t point to just one who has had an impact on her during these years because they all have.

“I think honestly all of our teachers have helped me through high school. I feel like we have a good staff…they have all influenced me in a good way.”