38 Hayden seniors move on; class honored during Sunday event | SteamboatToday.com

38 Hayden seniors move on; class honored during Sunday event

Student's death cited as a unifying factor for class

Jack Weinstein

Hayden Secondary Schools principal Troy Zabel hugs graduating senior Kalina McFadden on Sunday at the school. Sunday marked the end of school in Hayden for 38 seniors, and also for Zabel, who resigned his position earlier this year.

— All the traditions were observed Sunday afternoon during the Hayden Secondary Schools Class of 2011 graduation ceremony.

A video montage of photographs highlighted the seniors' growth from children to adults. There was the presentation of flowers — mostly orange roses — from the graduates to their families. And the faculty and staff started a silly string war, which quickly became a losing battle, after the class was presented.

But Sunday's ceremony seemed different.

Maybe it was because, as most classes claim, the Class of 2011 is the closest group of friends, Salutatorian Lysa Valora said. She said 28 of the class' 38 graduates had attended school together in Hayden since kindergarten — some earlier than that. She said it was a closeness that only grew after classmate Robert "Bobby" Donelson died in 2008 when they were sophomores.

Valora said the class cried, healed and moved on together while keeping the memory of Donelson close to their hearts. She said his death made them stronger, realize the importance of friendship and understand how blessed they were to live in Hayden.

"We are a big family, and no one can lay a finger on us," Valora said. "I love you guys so much, and I could never in my wildest dreams have asked for a better group of people to grow up with."

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Donelson, who died of acute heart failure caused by an undiagnosed genetic defect after collapsing during a walk at school, was recognized several times during the ceremony. While somber during those moments, the event reflected the optimism that lies ahead for the seniors.

Valedictorian Brian Hoza said before Sunday, most choices had been made for the seniors.

"As of today, the choice is now yours," he said. "You can choose whether or not you want to go to college, where you want to live, what job you want to do and what you want to do with your life. How neat is that?"

Of the 38 seniors, 22 will attend four-year colleges or universities, eight will go to two-year or vocational schools, one will join the military and seven will enter the workforce.

Counselor Nicole Dolence said the seniors earned $366,763 for their college educations.

Principal Troy Zabel said the seniors had the highest cumulative grade-point average of any class during his seven-year tenure. He said a majority of the class took advanced placement courses. He said they earned more welding certifications than previous classes.

Zabel said what stood out in his mind about the seniors was their character, class and potential.

"Knowing the potential of this class, I can assure every person in this gymnasium that our future is in good hands," he said. "Now go out there and live like you mean it."

Class of 2011 scholarships (4 years)

Hayden Blake $32,000

Anna Brown $1,000

Cassidy Bush $6,163

Dusty Davis $500

Brian Hoza $172,500

Kaitlyn Jezo $1,400

Treyben Letlow $5,000

Kali McFadden $47,500

Justin Moon $500

Luke Myers $500

Lindsay Parrott $4,800

Kyra Rolando $1,000

Jake Rosendale $40,000

Chris Skof $500

Angela St. Clair $2,700

Lysa Valora $33,500

Delanie VeDepo $12,750

Ben Williams $3,750

Casey Zabel $700

Total: $366,763

Source: Hayden Secondary Schools

Hayden Class of 2011 postgraduate plans

Scott Armbruster, Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction

Morgan Bell, Colorado Mesa University

Hayden Blake, University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.

Anna Brown, Colorado State University in Fort Collins

Cassidy Bush, Fort Lewis College in Durango

Samantha Cless, Front Range Community College in Fort Collins

Dusty Davis, working in the welding industry

Dayton Dowling, Twentymile Coal Co.

Ty Dunckley, Twentymile Coal Co.

Dalton Earle, U.S. Marine Corps

Sierra Ehlers, Northeastern Junior College in Sterling

Brandy Grubbs, working full time

Josh Hines, Western State College in Gunnison

Brian Hoza, Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Kaitlyn Jezo, Colorado State University

Treyben Letlow, Colorado State University-Pueblo

Kali McFadden, University of Denver

Hannah Meade, Front Range Community College

Graig Medvesk, Colorado Mesa University

Khrystyne Montgomery, Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig

Justin Moon, Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie, Wyo.

Sydney Murray, University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.

Cassi Musslewhite, Aveda Institute in Denver

Luke Myers, Colorado Northwestern Community College

Lindsay Parrott, Colorado Mesa University

Sam Penrose, working part time on a ranch outside Steamboat

Brandon Ray, working full time in the welding industry

Kyra Rolando, Colorado Mesa University

Ryan Romine, Western State College

Jake Rosendale, University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.

Chris Skof, Wyoming Technical Institute

Angela St. Clair, Colorado State University

Cory Terry, Twentymile Coal Co.

Krista Tomke, Colorado State University

Lysa Valora, University of Wyoming in Laramie

Delanie VeDepo, University of Colorado at Boulder

Ben Williams, undecided, but plans to play baseball in college

Casey Zabel, Colorado Mesa University

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