GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, AZ — The majority of visitors to the Grand Canyon would never know that just a short distance from the iconic South Rim, there's not only a little community but a school.
Home to over 250 students, it graduates about 15 to 20 seniors each year. The current school building, the only K-12 school district inside a national park, was finished in 1940 and has been improved and expanded in the decades since.
Most students, like Mattie Donehoo, grow up inside Grand Canyon National Park. Now about to graduate after living inside the park her entire life, Donehoo doesn't even know what it's like to see the Grand Canyon for the first time, for her it's always been a part of her life.
"I always used think it's normal to have this much space to grow and run."
Yes, the students will tell you it can be hard to explain, that they go to school at the Grand Canyon. Judith Torres, a senior and student body president, says most people tend to be confused.
"They're like 'Oh, the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon' and it's like, 'Yes, the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon.'"
The students and staff that learn and teach at the Grand Canyon School, like Aleryn Reid, realize they're lucky. Anytime they want to go on a field trip, take their senior pictures, or even hand out diplomas to a graduating class, they can do it with a backdrop of one of the most impressive views in the world, all inside one of the most popular national parks in the country.
"It's not every day if you're a tourist you can see this, so I'm pretty grateful that I can walk just a couple feet from my house and go and see it."