Hayden graduates, from left, Brentt Gabel, Annie Grubbs, Aubree Haskins and McCoy Howe laugh Sunday while they listen to Mallory McGowen give the salutatorian address. The high school graduated 25 seniors in the ceremony.

Photo by Scott Franz

Hayden graduates, from left, Brentt Gabel, Annie Grubbs, Aubree Haskins and McCoy Howe laugh Sunday while they listen to Mallory McGowen give the salutatorian address. The high school graduated 25 seniors in the ceremony.

Hayden graduates 25 seniors in boisterous ceremony

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Hayden valedictorian Erin Koehler addresses her classmates Sunday during the graduation ceremony.

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Hayden seniors throw their caps into the air Sunday after graduation.

— Hayden’s Class of 2012 laughed and cried when Mallory McGowen read some memories into a microphone.

And they also laughed softly when they were reminded about the time they put Ms. Bush’s fish in a water cooler and shot spit wads in Ms. Salberg’s class. They laughed harder when McGowen recounted the time some of her classmates played jump rope with the intestines of a fetal pig being dissected in a biology class.

“No matter where we go, or what we do, we will always have this little town,” the salutatorian said Sunday afternoon in Hayden High School’s gymnasium. “We will always have our memories, our friendships. But most importantly, we will always have each other.”

They will become soldiers and cooks, athletes and nurses. Principal Gina Zabel called them independent, energetic and stubborn. Together, they earned $234,640 worth of scholarships.

And with just 25 students, Superintendent Mike Luppes said the Class of 2012 is one of the smallest he can remember. But just like every other graduating class in Hayden, the group filled the bleachers with parents and friends who cheered the students on during a boisterous ceremony filled with inspirational speeches and a slideshow that traced the students friendships back to their infancies.

“It’s always mixed emotions,” Luppes said. “You’re always pleased to see a great group of high achieving kids like this make great plans for the future.”

Sunday was a big day for parents, too. Some of them in the bleachers were watching their youngest and last child graduate from the high school.

“She’s going to do well, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the rest of her life,” Dana Haskins said about her daughter Aubree, who graduated with five scholarships totaling $27,000. “We ended with a big bang this year.”

After all of the pomp and jubilation, the students thought ahead.

Buck Earle stepped over the silly string and balloons that covered the gym floor to receive hugs from classmates, teachers and parents after he threw his cap into the air.

The graduate said it was an honor to walk on a big stage minutes earlier and hear hundreds applaud the accomplishments of the seniors who sat centered in a hot gymnasium. He said it was a sad day, but at the same time, an awesome one.

“The friends I’ve made here will be with me the rest of my life,” he said. “We’ll keep in touch.”

Earle soon will head to Western Colorado Community College to study culinary arts, but he won’t leave his friends completely behind. He plans to immortalize them in the pages of five murder mystery novels he plans to write in college. The characters will be set in 1947 Chicago and based on the personalities of his classmates.

“Some people will have to play the bad guys,” he joked. “The books might help me pay for college.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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