Activities held all week long

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Homecoming, perhaps the most exciting part of the fall quarter, is here, and Hayden students are ready to celebrate their school spirit and positive changes in the Hayden School District.

"The kids are just really pulling together and trying to make an effort," Hayden High School Student Council sponsor Ty Zabel said.

Inspired by the Summer Olympics, the Student Council came up with this year's homecoming theme, 2004 Tiger Olympiad. Throughout the week, student classes will compete in daily activities, including a pie-eating contest, tug o' war and three-legged race, for the chance to represent their grade with an Olympic-like torch throughout the day, Zabel said.

Kicking off homecoming activities this week was Sunday's School Clean-Up Day, in which students of all ages picked up trash, painted sheds, replaced boards on the football field bleachers and worked on other projects around the middle and high schools.

Principal Troy Zabel explained the idea behind the activities is to encourage an optimistic atmosphere at the schools, which have undergone serious changes after losing two principals during the summer.

"We though we needed to see some positive things happen," he said.

As part of the change, students have planned several school beautification projects that include building a permanent fire pit, planning trees and adding flower boxes and building a deck/patio area between the cafeteria and middle school gym, Ty Zabel said.

To help raise money for the projects, the students are holding a chili cook-off from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the middle and high school cafeteria. The students have invited Hayden residents to enter their homemade chili in three categories: red, green and white.

Adults will pay $5 and children will be charged $3 to taste the entries and cast their votes for the winner, which will be announced at 6:45 p.m.

The students are hoping the Hayden community participates not only in the chili cook-off, but in the homecoming parade, which starts at 12:50 p.m. Friday at the Hayden Valley Elementary School parking lot and ends at the high school football field.

"That's what homecoming is all about, alumni coming back and being together," Ty Zabel said.

The high school volleyball team will face Plateau Valley, with junior varsity playing at 4 p.m. and varsity playing at 6 p.m. A Kiss the Pig contest and Tiger Cubs dance will take place before the varsity game.

Kickoff for the football game against Plateau Valley will be at 7:30 p.m. The high school cheerleading squad will dance during halftime, which also will feature the crowning of royalty and the introduction of homecoming grand marshals, Dennis and Vickie Parrott.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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