Region 9 and Telstar 2024 graduate Gavin Mitchell of Bethel has his Class B permit. Rose Lincoln/

MEXICO — “I have dreams and I am going to make those dreams a reality,” says Telstar 2024 graduate Gavin Mitchell of Bethel.

Mitchell has left behind any self-doubt when he says, “this is by far the best year of high school I’ve ever had in five years of high school. I was supposed to graduate last year and I didn’t because I decided to goof off and not do my work.

“I took something that people would see as bad and turned it upside down and took every little bit of benefit I could out of this year.”

Mitchell’s teacher, Ed Naples concurs. He teaches Mitchell’s 10-week Commercial Driver’s License class at Region 9. About Mitchell, he says, “he goes above and beyond … he is very conscientious, has his permit, does his homework, he’s here to drive, he’s going to make someone a good employee.”

Attaining a Class B license will allow Mitchell to drive dump trucks and tractor trailers. “If it’s 26,000 pounds or more it’s a class B,” says Naples, who adds that there are many construction jobs in the Bethel area. He could  work for a town’s highway department, do landscaping or haul chips, says Naples. The 40-year program, he says is, “the best deal in town, no college payments, just a license and go drive.”

CDL license


The hardest part is understanding the amount of paper work, book work and reading that is involved, says Mitchell who saw fellow students drop out because of the amount of book work in his CDL class. Naples says, “but Gavin picked it right up. He’s a smart kid.”

Mitchell has just returned to Region 9 from a drive with an instructor in an 80’s International Eagle dump truck. Asked if there is freedom in driving trucks, he says, “you feel a great sense of severe responsibility. You’re in control a of a 13-plus ton of steel.”

The trucks are eight- and 10-speed standards, “If you have never driven a standard to begin with, it’s going to suck learning this … In this [truck] you have to double clutch,” he explains.

“If you touch the edge of the road you can feel the truck wanting to pull itself off every now and then. It takes a little bit to get used to going around corners. The center of gravity is so high, you move around a lot in the top of that truck,” he adds.

Region 9 and Telstar 2024 graduate Gavin Mitchell of Bethel has his Class B permit. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

Before CDL

During COVID, Mitchell helped two Region 9 teachers, John Longley and Jeff Rainey start a guide class called outdoor skills. They learned camping; fishing; map and compass; and survival skills.


The following year he became certified for heavy equipment.

“[Region 9] was kind of a second home. It saved my high school education. Without it, I easily would have dropped out. I would have gone straight to work or whatever this world had intended for me,” says Mitchell.

At Telstar he says two people had his back: ELO Coordinator Carrie Lynch and Principal John Eliot.

He is currently a grounds worker at The Bethel Resort and Suites. He plans to stay there until he has his Class B license in hand, then he’ll look around for a local construction job. He’ll head back to Region 9 this summer for his Class A license, too.

Mitchell lost his father in 2021 and lives with his younger sister, Jaiden, and Melissa, his mother.

In the future, he would like to own his own land and possibly his own landscaping company. He’d like to build an old-style farmhouse with modern amenities and he’d like to start a car collection.

“Time to put my nose to the grindstone and show those people who doubted me wrong.” says Mitchell as the bus arrives and he heads back to Telstar. He’ll receive his degree on June 7 at Telstar graduation.

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