Hayden graduates first students from new school
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.
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“We should take those, and many more lessons into the next chapter of our lives,” Nelson said.
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.
“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.
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.
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