Speaker: Find your passion, be happy

Hayden commencement features Silly String, strong emotions

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— No one would expect a tight-knit group of 27 Hayden High School seniors to leave quietly.

When it came time to move the tassels to the other side of their caps to signify their accomplishments, the gym erupted into applause, and the class of 2006 tossed their caps into the air in a shower of Silly String.

"I still don't feel like a senior," graduate Alicia Hall said. "I haven't even cried. Am I supposed to?"

After 2,145 days of school, the seniors knew this was their day to share with the 1,000 people packed into the school gymnasium.

Keenan Bruchez, who will play football and study petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, ran across the stage and sprayed school administrators with Silly String. Barbecues and parties were planned for the rest of the day.

"I look around, and this is the last time we're all going to be together in the same place," Hall said.

This year's graduates will be leaving the town where many of them grew up, and they will be headed in every direction. Three graduates will be joining the military; Chelsea Fry will study to become a pilot, and others are trying to discover their passions.

Passion, pride, accountability, respect, integrity and use of common sense were the key themes in guest speaker Jeff Potter's presentation for the graduates. Potter, the CEO of Frontier Airlines, warned the graduates that there would be a lot of instances in life that are not fair.

"Move on," Potter said. "Be the champion, not the victim."

The graduates should not expect to be entitled to anything, Potter said, and they should work to earn what they have every day.

"It's not about financial success," Potter said. "It's about being happy."

Valedictorian John Yager told his fellow graduates to keep their sense of humor and advised them to not judge anyone before walking a mile in their shoes.

"That way, you'll be a mile away, and you'll have their shoes," said Yager, who will attend the University of Colorado at Boulder to study science and engineering.

Yager was one of seven seniors to earn the Presidential Award for maintaining at least a 3.5 grade point average throughout high school.

More than $100,000 in scholarships funds were awarded to the graduates.

"Next year, we'll have 160 days without you," High School Principal Troy Zabel told the graduates. "Let me tell you, you'll truly be missed."

Mariah Doolin gave the salutatory address at the ceremony. She wrote letters to each of her classmates and taped them to the bottom of their chairs.

"I know we all have memories that will make us laugh and cry," Doolin said. "But now, it's time to move on."

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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