Hayden As 34 Hayden High School seniors get ready to take the next step in their lives, they will be remembered as a close-knit class that shared some good and sad times during their four years.
The seniors will be graduating from Hayden High School at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the school's gymnasium, 495 Jefferson Ave.
The class' senior year was one that was filled with happiness and sadness.
There was the senior-dominated football team that carried the team to the state semifinal game.
There was also the wrestling team's accomplishment of winning a regional crown, and senior Joel Wixson placing second at state.
In between, there were the good times the class shared during homecoming and prom that will serve as lasting memories.
However, the class' closeness may have been tested early in the school year when one of their own passed away.
Jerod Faucett's five-year battle with leukemia ended last September. Principal Nick Schafer believes the death brought the class even closer.
Faucett will be remembered by his classmates during graduation.
"There will be an empty chair for him," Schafer said.
Senior Rachel Pedersen is feeling what a lot of her classmates are feeling as the ceremony approaches.
"I am really scared but excited, too," said Pedersen, who plans to attend Mesa State College next fall. "Our four years have been good.
"Graduation is going to be emotional. We are a close class."
Ashley Bell agrees.
"We have grown up together," said Bell, who also plans on attending the college in Grand Junction. "We know pretty much everything about everybody."
Schafer, who is in his second year at the school, believes this class is special.
"There are a lot of kids in this class that have a lot of drive," he said. "They work really hard at what they do. They have been successful in athletics as well as academics."
Of the graduating seniors, 20 have plans to continue their education at colleges or universities.
"There is a good chance, they will complete what they started and complete their post-second education," he said.
Although the seniors have excelled in the classroom and in athletic competitions, Schafer has enjoyed getting to know the students on a personal level.
"The memory I will have of them is they are not only great students and athletes, but they are really nice people," he said.
For the past 19 years, Gary Shaw has seen his share of senior classes come and go.
Shaw, who teaches senior and college English, will miss the graduating seniors.
"The whole class is a bunch of good kids," he said. "It is a very good class. I'm going to miss these guys. They have been a fun class to teach."
High school teacher Kipp Rillos served as a sponsor to the senior class this year. He found out how close the group is when senior Josh Giessinger put together a page in the yearbook that is solely dedicated to the seniors.
Giessinger made a collage using old photographs of the class from when they were in elementary school and middle school.
"The pictures show a lot of them together when they were younger," Rillos said. "They are a pretty tight-knit group. They have all been together for a long time."
This past Friday was the last day for the seniors. There will only be a few more times the class will be together until Wednesday evening.
The class will have graduation rehearsal twice on Wednesday.
During the graduation, the class will be addressed by William Grimes.
The band director, who is retiring after 30 years, will be providing the seniors with some wisdom as they take their next step in their lives. The class will also be addressed by the class' valedictorian and salutatorian, which will be known Monday.
Prior to the graduation, the sophomore class is sponsoring a dinner at 5 p.m. in the school's cafeteria. Baccalaureate is at 7 p.m. in the school's auditorium.