'Golden class' graduates

Tigers commencement ceremonies at 1 p.m. today

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When the Hayden High School class of 2005 does something, it doesn't just go halfway.

Take the senior pranks, for example.

Seniors have shrink-wrapped teacher Kipp Rillos' truck, filled teacher and coach Shawn Baumgartner's office with shredded paper and filled counselor Danica Moss' office with balloons.

As of Monday, principal Troy Zabel had been spared from the mischief.

"I'm just waiting," he said.

Aside from the creative pranks, the seniors don't have to worry about leaving their mark at the school.

Known as the "golden class," the students have developed a group reputation for being levelheaded, focused and driven in academics, athletics, drama, vocational programs and nearly everything they pursue.

"The thing I'm proud of is these kids push each other. ... They expect a lot out of themselves and their class," Zabel said. "It really set the tone and climate for the school."

"All the way around, they have the total package for a class."

The 38 students in the class of 2005 will bid farewell to teachers, administrators and their school at 1 p.m. today in the high school gym. The seniors' last day of school was Wednesday.

Some teachers already have shed tears over the students' departure, Moss said.

"They are awesome; I'm going to miss them," she said.

The class has worked hard to earn teachers' respect with good behavior and efforts to make younger students feel comfortable and involved in activities, valedictorian Lauren Branstetter said.

"The other classes definitely have felt closest to our class," she said. "We've always tried to set an example. We're hoping we have made an impact on the younger students."

Striving for the best has been a common thread in the class and has helped inspire healthy competition -- particularly in academics.

On Monday, the class had garnered more than $130,000 in scholarships, including three full-ride awards, Moss said.

The students' achievements, individual and collective, have a lot to do with class unity, something the students have aimed for since middle school, salutatorian Margie Jones said.

"There's an individual quality to all of us, but at the same time, we're close as a class -- closer than any other class I've seen at Hayden High School," she said.

"It's going to be really emotional for us to leave. We've all really bonded."

Scholarship recipients will be named at the graduation ceremony Sunday. Baumgartner also will address the graduates as guest speaker.

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