School gears up

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Hayden High School teacher and rastafarian-for-the-day Ty Zabel walked into school Tuesday with dreadlocks flowing from a pate normally concealed by a cowboy hat.

Meanwhile, everyone else in the school was ready to round up cattle, jump on a horse and ride into the sunset -- or at least look like Zabel.

Tuesday was "Ty Zabel Day," part of Hayden High School's homecoming celebration.

The teacher does not know why a day was designated in his honor, but nevertheless, many students wore Wranglers, oversize belt buckles and cowboy boots and hats, to mimic Zabel's normal work attire.

"I don't know why, but the teachers and students here just like to make fun of me for the way I dress," Zabel said. "It's what I've worn my whole life. I guess I'm just a local product of Northwest Colorado."

High school students are rightfully excited for this year's homecoming game celebration.

The Tigers will face cross county rivals the Soroco Rams on Friday night in volleyball and football match-ups.

The football team hopes to make this game its fourth consecutive homecoming victory. Hayden defeated Grand Valley the past three years.

"It's definitely a big deal," said Student Council President Shai Engle. "The fact that it's Soroco adds something extra and makes it that much more of a big deal."

The football game begins at 7:30 p.m.

For many students, kickoff will mark the finale of a process that began weeks ago, when students began conceiving ideas for class floats in the annual parade.

The homecoming parade begins at 1 p.m. Friday, and will wind from Third Street down Jefferson Avenue to Pine Street, then back down Washington Street to the high school. For the procession, each class competes for the best float.

More competition is in store each night through Friday. The boys and girls switched sports early in the week, with the boys playing "macho volleyball" Tuesday and the girls playing "powder-puff flag football" today.

Students will get out of class early Thursday for a homecoming dance during the last hours of the class day, followed by a bonfire in the high school parking lot, where the football team captains are expected to get the crowd psyched.

"Homecoming is traditionally supposed to be for the whole community, and it still is," Zabel said. "It is supposed to be an opportunity for alumni to come back. We have strayed from that a little, but during the week, we try to encourage school spirit and overall, have fun."

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