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Alumni Happenings - March 2008
Grand County High School


Derrick and Shelley Cook, GCHS Class of 1989

by Jeff Richards

Derrick Cook remembers the first time he met the parents of his future wife, Shelley, in the late summer of 1988, right at the beginning of their senior year at Grand County High School.

“I happened to be sluffing seminary,” admitted Derrick. “I had gone home for a quick brunch, and just as I was leaving the house and heading back to school, I saw my mom outside by the mailbox talking to a couple who were house shopping. They introduced themselves as Jim and Merilyn Carver.”

“Jim, who was to be the new seminary teacher, asked me, ‘Shouldn’t you be in school right now?’” Derrick recalled, adding, “I replied, ‘Yeah, but I’m just skipping seminary.’ He said, ‘Well, then I guess I won’t be seeing much of you.’”

“Little did I know that he had a beautiful daughter my age,” added Derrick. “He soon found that he was seeing more of me than any other young man in town. Oh yeah, my seminary attendance improved as well!”

The Carvers ended up moving in next door to the Cooks. For Shelley Carver, moving to Moab for her senior year from a much larger school in Seattle to a small school was a big adjustment. “I was still shy, but my sister Kimberlee (GCHS Class of 1991) and I were the new girls in town. I had never had a girl want to fight me until I moved here. A girl said that I’d looked at her funny.”

“Still, it all ended great. The guys were nice to us, and the girls were funny,” recalled Shelley, who performed with the drill team her senior year. “High school was such a great experience – I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Derrick, who played sports in high school, earned scholarships to play football at Southern Utah and baseball at the College of Eastern Utah. He ended up choosing CEU, thinking he had a better chance as a pitcher than as a quarterback. “But I ended up blowing out my knee anyway within the year, so I decided to go on a mission for [the LDS] church.”

“I spent two great years in Argentina and found a greater purpose in helping people, and this greatly changed my perspectives in life,” added Derrick. “When I returned, rather than getting back into sports, I married the love of my life and we started our family.”

Derrick and Shelley are the parents of four children, two boys and two girls. Oldest son Parker, 13, is currently an 8th-grader at Grand County Middle School. The other three children are son Koi, 11, and daughters Taitum, 10, and Tenney, 4.

Derrick and Shelley lived away from Moab while they attended college, raising their young family. “We had some tough years as we both went to school full time and worked full time,” recalled Derrick, who got his bachelors degree in Spanish from SUU with a minor in physical education, and a secondary education certificate. He later earned masters degrees in both educational counseling and mental health therapy from the University of Phoenix. While they were still in Cedar City, Shelley also graduated from SUU with a bachelors degree in elementary education with a minor in art.

After spending several years as the executive administrator of a private foster care company, Derrick founded his own private foster care company called Turning Point. He also founded a residential treatment center known by the same name.

“But after spending about 15 years away from Moab, our hearts were telling us that we needed to move back,” noted Derrick, adding, “I enjoyed growing up here so much that I wanted to be able to raise my family here.”
The Cooks moved back to Moab about four years ago, but Derrick’s employment keeps him on the road quite a bit – he works as a therapist and consults with several different treatment centers. He currently works as a therapist for Wilderness Quest in Monticello.

A couple of years ago, Derrick and Shelley also purchased the Yagottawanna Fun Park (behind the McDonald’s in Moab), and have since remodeled the business into the Adventure Land Family Fun Center. “We have added some new attractions, including newer go-carts, bumper boats, a laser tag game, and more,” said Derrick. “We wanted to create a safe place for kids of all ages to come and play.”

Derrick calls working at Adventure Land business “therapeutic.” “Watching families have fun together helps to remind me why I continue to help families in crisis,” he said, adding that he plans to start his own private therapy practice in Moab in the near future.

Derrick can often be found on the sidelines of local high school and junior high ball games. He will serve as assistant baseball coach for the Red Devils once again this spring.

Meantime, Shelley is currently in her first year of teaching art at GCMS. “I love teaching at the middle school. The students are talented and it’s fun to create things with them.”

Derrick’s parents (Don and Sue Cook) still live in Moab, as do two of his sisters (Amy Cox and Kristen Risenhoover). Shelley is the only member of her family who still lives in Moab, but many locals still remember the Carvers from when they operated the Snow Shack (bought from the Cooks), and from when Shelley’s mom Merilyn taught preschool at the “Growing Tree.” “Some of her preschoolers are now married and have kids living here in town,” Shelley noted.

Both Derrick and Shelley have fond memories of their high school teachers. Shelley remembers Mr. Bentley allowing her to leave class and drive to the Portal to paint. She also enjoyed dancing with the Devilettes drill team, and being the baseball team manager, which allowed her to watch Derrick play. “Also, when I was practicing for drill, Derrick would come into the gym after pumping the iron,” Shelley recalled. “He looked hot!”

Derrick singled out current GCHS Spanish teacher Lin Kolb as having a memorable impact on him. “I usually acted out in her classroom,” admits Derrick. “If I haven’t apologized before, now is as good a time as any. Sorry, Ms. Kolb. Anyway, in high school I never excelled in Spanish, and I remember defiantly insisting that I would never, ever use Spanish in my life, so why should I learn it?”

“Well, what goes around comes around,” continued Derrick. “After spending two years in South America, I ended up with a bachelors degree in Spanish, and becoming a Spanish teacher and coach. So heads up to all those who are acting out in her class!”

Derrick added that he also appreciates the efforts of baseball coach Mike Steele, along with several others who helped him in his earlier school years, including Tom Warren, Obid Hamblin, and Bill Meador. “May we all be able to give to our school and community as these great educators have done,” Derrick said.

The Cook family enjoys living in Moab because of its spectacular natural beauty, and they love spending time outdoors as a family. “We also love the small-town atmosphere,” added Derrick. “We love to see others get excited about the natural wonders as they come here to enjoy what we believe to be the adventure capital of the world.”

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