There are perks to having a small graduating class.
For one thing, you can pretty much guarantee that once graduation caps are tossed, everyone -- teachers and principal included -- will be covered in Silly String.
That was the last act of regression for 23 Hayden High School seniors who celebrated their time together before bidding farewell to school faculty at Thursday night's graduation.
But if they take guest speaker Ann Copeland's advice, that hardly will be their last laugh.
"Never forget to laugh. ... Remember the power of a smile," said Copeland, a 1975 alumni of the school. "If you can't laugh at yourself, you're lost."
But if the seniors' slide show and speeches at the ceremony were any indication, a sense of humor isn't a trait they lack.
Instead of beginning her speech with the usual seriousness, class valedictorian Chelsea Smith announced a game of Simon Says and asked her classmates to stand.
"You're all out," Smith said after the graduates stood obediently. "I didn't say 'Simon Says stand up.'"
The lesson? "Pay attention to detail in life and read between the lines," she said.
A prominent theme for the graduates, many of whom have been in school together since kindergarten, was their transformation from a rather rambunctious class to mature, confident individuals.
"There are those classes teachers hear about before they come. ... I'm pretty sure we were one of those classes," salutatorian Andrea Deepe told the crowd.
In junior high, the girls quarreled so much they had to attend weekly counseling sessions. Now, they get along great, she said.
Part of coming together as a class, Deepe said, was overcoming their initial meekness to cheer for themselves at pep rallies.
"Every year, we learned a little more that we didn't care what people around us thought," she said.
With humor and growth there came a commitment to success that was evident in the $106,420 in scholarships the students garnered.
Diplomas in hand, some students plan to travel or begin working as welders, cosmetologists and auto mechanics. Others will head to trade schools, universities and community colleges to become accountants, dental hygienists, art teachers and musicians.
Among schools they will attend are Augustana College in Illinois, Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado, Metro State College, Colorado Mountain College, Denver Automotive and Diesel Academy and ITT Technical Institute.
But, as Copeland pointed out, less important are the paths than the desire to live life to the fullest.
"You can always make money, but to my knowledge you can't make time. Make every minute count," she told the students.
The graduating seniors were: Jared Alpe, Brandon Barnes, Jerrad Bartholomew, Ryan Bell, Melissa Bowden, Blake Copeland, Andrea Deepe, Jana Denker, Dustin Driscoll, Shai Engle, Trevor Gann, Millie Hellyer, Jeremy May, Craig Pagan, Christina Reck, Tero Rimon, Jason Rolando, Jordan Rolando, Chelsea Smith, Amanda Sumerlin, Aubry Vestal, Marlene Ward and Zackary Wheelock.