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Hayden graduates first students from new school

Hayden High School graduates toss their caps into the wind at the end of the schools first ever outdoor graduation ceremony. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

The road in front of the new Hayden Valley School is called Breeze Basin Boulevard, and it lived up to its name Sunday afternoon when the school graduated its first senior class in its first outdoor graduation ceremony.

“Its called Breeze Basin for a reason, so hold on to your hats,” said District Superintendent Christy Sinner in opening remarks.

The 24 students in the Hayden High School Class of 2021 graduated in a sunny but rather blustery ceremony on the school’s new football field. It marked the end of a four-year path capped off by a move to a new school during a global pandemic.



“We definitely never thought we would end up with the senior year we got,” said graduate LeeAnna Nelson, in a speech to her class. “We made the best of it. We pushed through all the negativity.”

Nelson suggested her fellow students carry two thoughts with them as they left that day. She said they should never give up and never take anything for granted.



“We should take those, and many more lessons into the next chapter of our lives,” Nelson said.

Hayden valedictorian Andrew Kleckler takes a photo with his family. His dad, Kevin Kleckler is retiring after this year and was presented the Pride of the Tiger Award from the Class of 2021. Kleckler is headed to Baylor University next fall to study health science. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

Over half of the class graduated with a grade point average above 3.75, and 18 of them already have plans for college or technical school. Others plan to enter the workforce right away in fields like construction, real estate and massage therapy.

“This class is just an amazing class. They are filled with kindness and love,” said Sinner, who became superintendent of the district when the class started high school. “I’ve been able to watch them grow through the years, and they have truly developed — it has been fun to see.”

Teachers said they were really proud of the graduates because this class was able to endure so much adversity. Social studies teacher Katherine George said the students are proud of themselves, too.

Hayden High School Graduate Gracie Day speaks to her class during the schools outdoor ceremony on Sunday. Day will be attending Northeastern Junior College to study animal science and play basketball next fall. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

“If it was to happen to anyone, and anyone was going to succeed through it, (it) would be this group,” said Matt Linsacum, who teaches physical education classes. “It is a bummer to see them go.”

Valedictorian Andrew Kleckler said they have learned several things during the pandemic that they should take with them in the future. He said the coolest thing about the class is how close they are, saying the family atmosphere of the class is truly special and not possible for larger classes.

“The biggest thing I think we should take out of this year, however, is learning how to be resilient,” Kleckler told the class, while battling the wind. “We are, without a doubt, the greatest class that has ever graduated from Hayden Valley schools.”

When they were in fifth grade, the class used money from concessions usually used for field trips to purchase a statue of a tiger that sat in front of the old high school. Recently, it was moved over to the new building near the field, which Sinner said is a legacy the class will leave behind at the school.

“It takes a village to raise these guys, but Hayden is a nice village,” School Board President Brian Hoza said.

Hayden School Board President Brian Hoza presents graduate RebacAina Noda with her diploma Sunday Afternoon. Noda plans to start working right now but wants to pursue a degree in massage therapy and photography soon. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

At a ceremony for the opening of the new school building, graduate Gracie Day said the school was a new start for Hayden. Sunday, she said she hoped they would leave the school with their dreams big and a smile on their face.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up with any other group of people, and I am so proud of who the class of 2021 has become,” Day said.

Hayden graduate Keaton Knez laughs during a parody fairy tale read by teachers Gina Sabel, Tina Benish-Holmes and Lexi Cyphers. Knez is headed to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to study game design next fall. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

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