Playing by ear: Karval’s Reid is in a class all her own |

Playing by ear: Karval’s Reid is in a class all her own

Karval School is located in Lincoln County, Colorado, south of Limon and north of Ordway. It is surrounded by large ranches and wheat fields. The town is best known for the Rocky Mountain Plover Festival and is a destination for bird enthusiasts. There was a café some years ago, but the post office outlived it and the gas station.

Maggie and Shane Reid share a high five before an excited graduation crowd. Courtesy photo

On graduation day, though, the town was filled to the brim and area families poured into the gym to watch Maggie Reid graduate. The audience filled the chairs prepared on the gym floor and overflowed into the grandstands. Reid’s grandmother, Janell Reid, directed the band as she walked to the stage. Her brother, Shane, a freshman, set aside his instrument to escort her up the stairs, complete with a high five at the top. Reid’s aunt Lacey Taylor, an extension agent in nearby Cheyenne County, delivered the keynote address. Taylor, a small town girl herself, said she appreciates many things about her niece, her zingy one liners among them. She spoke at the ceremony about relying on faith and the people who taught many lessons through the years, who will be cheering as Reid moves beyond Karval School. It is Reid’s quiet confidence, Taylor said, that emanates and, paired with her faith, will carry her wherever she hopes to go.

Maggie Reid at her graduation from Karval High School. Courtesy photo

Reid said the most memorable moment-among many was presenting a flower to her family members. She said she presented one to brother Shane and when tears filled his eyes, there wasn’t a dry eye in town.

Maggie presents a flower to her younger brother, Shane, who also played in the band and escorted her to the stage. Courtesy photo

Karval School superintendent Sarah Nuss said in a community such as this one, there is a village mentality and the close-knit families and friendships create a feeling of ownership when the town’s children succeed and celebrate.

Maggie Reid, Karval's Class of 2022, has taught herself to play a number of instruments and is college bound to study music education. Courtesy photo

A number of one-room schools dating back to the early 1900s consolidated to form the Karval district in 1959. The district now serves a very large geographic, but sparsely populated area with kids riding a bus for over an hour one way each morning. Nuss said the district has historically served less than 100 students, which she said makes the district better able to leverage the strengths of the system. Staff members are able to switch tasks quickly and are flexible, making the entire district nimble in the ways it best serves the students. Traveling outside the community, be it for an FFA activity or contest, a music event, athletics, knowledge bowl or the like, Nuss said is a major advantage for Karval students, making them excellent networkers. Providing travel, she said, is something a small district can do that pays big dividends.

Karval School Board president Janet Kravig presents Reid's diploma. Courtesy photo

Nuss said it’s not unusual to graduate a class of one or two students; in fact, in 2015 there was no graduating class. Despite the numbers, though, the community of Karval showed up in droves to cheer Reid and celebrate her milestone achievement.

“Maggie is an incredible person and what she really loves is music,” Nuss said. “She had a variety of music teachers, and she was able to learn from whomever we had in that music room, it was incredible. She could take from them, she could ask questions, she was very self-directed and she used whatever she could from each teacher to further pursue her passion for music.”

Nuss said it’s a testament to just how passionate Reid is about music, especially as Reid never had access to a certified music teacher, but rather a certified teacher in another content area who agreed to teach music.

It is notable, Nuss said that Reid comes from a long line of people who believe in service to the community. Both sides of her family — the Reids and the Taylors — have volunteered at the school and have even been employees, serving as bus drivers and substitute teachers. Grandma Janell Reid was even her granddaughter’s music teacher this year.

“I think that’s beautiful and wonderful when that happens because everybody benefits when there are active mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers,” Nuss said. “It’s amazing to me that Janell helps me so much as an employee and it’s partly because she has grandkids here, but it’s partly because she knows other people would do the same for her grandkids.”

Reid is a product of a ranch family, with her parents, Chip and Nikki, and grandparents owning and operating a commercial cattle operation south of Karval, and her maternal grandparents doing the same to the north of town. She and her younger brother, Shane, now a freshman, own a growing herd of Hereford cows as well.

Like many students at small schools, she was involved in multitudes of activities and also showed livestock.

“I had the opportunity to be involved in everything,” she said. “There were only 10 of us in the high school so I was in the play, band, choir, FFA, Knowledge Bowl and it gave me the opportunity to try lots of things until I found something that I loved.”

Through the years of learning and loving music, Maggie learned — often teaching herself — how to play the trumpet, French horn, trombone, tenor saxophone, cello, piano, ukulele, and the guitar, though she said she’s still working to master it.

It was likely no surprise that Reid also took her music knowledge and passion to serve younger students at the school with an interest in music by serving as a teacher’s aid.

“When I started as a teacher’s aid, I wasn’t interested in teaching music at a rural school, but as I worked with the kids, the idea grew on me,” Reid said.

Reid will attend Western State College in Gunnison in the fall with plans to become a music teacher in a small town. She said she attended Honor Band at the campus in February and loved the campus, the town, and the music department.


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