Horizon High School graduates 16 seniors

Graduating seniors from Horizon High School await their diplomas during this year’s commencement ceremony, held Friday, June 2, at Evanston Middle School. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Horizon High School held its graduation ceremony on Friday, June 2, in the Evanston Middle School auditorium. Sixteen seniors — Zane Aaron Allman, Brookelynn Renee Ballhorn, Seleena Bird, Greyson James Duncan Blakeman, Kaitlyn Marie Brady, Mandi Michelle Flores, Kaiden Rey Handy, Janet Heredia, Alyson Jones, Layton Jay Lym, Xitlali Sanchez Montano, Cameron Eugene Olson, Dawnele Kathleen “Benji” Powell, Logan Marie Robinson, Kolby Richard Sather and Cassie Brooklynn Stilts — proudly marched down the aisle and sat in a row on the stage facing their families and friends.

Horizon principal Shad Hamilton welcomed the large crowd, recognized the graduates with humorous recollections of their years at Horizon and then introduced student valedictorian Benji Powell as the first speaker.

Powell said, “My mom is the reason I am here today. She has supported me and encouraged me. Next, I would like to recognize my class, I am so proud to be a part of this class. We made it through the pandemic and other obstacles. Thank you to all of you and, especially, to my mom.”

Student body president Mandi Flores encouraged her fellow students to continue to persevere and live their own lives. Flores said it is important to do what you love and expect to make mistakes but not to be reckless. She ended by thanking her classmates and told them to now go live their lives.

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Xitlali Montano told her fellow students to use the skills and knowledge they gained from school to go and make an impact in the world.

“Congratulations to each of us,” Montano said, “and be proud of what you have accomplished.”

The teacher speaker, chosen by the students, was Arne Hengesteg.

“It is an honor to celebrate with each of you on this milestone of graduation,” Hengesteg said. “You have overcome obstacles and challenges and have shown perseverance and resilience. By using challenges as steppingstones to get where you want to be, you have shown resilience.  Your challenges may have been as simple as getting out of bed to get to class on time or late or it may have been learning how to pronounce my last name correctly. You have proven resilience by getting to this stage.”

Hengesteg encouraged the graduates to believe in themselves as they embark on the next chapter in their lives and to see every challenge as an opportunity to adapt and grow.

He told them it was important to establish relationships with positive supportive networks of people and to balance self-care and compassion.

Hengesteg ended by thanking the parents who helped the students get to this point in their lives and said he had no doubt these graduates would make a positive impact on the world.

Hamilton presented awards to the two Hathaway recipients, Zane Allman and Benji Powell, and to the students who earned their Career and Technical Education (CTE) certification: Xitlali Montano, Kolby Sather, Kaiden Handy, Zane Allman and Cameron Olson.

“I wanted to let you all know that I will not be the principal at Horizon next year,” Hamilton said. “I have taken a position in Mountain View as the special education director. I live in Mountain View, and this will allow me more time with my family — but I won’t forget Horizon. I will still be around. It has been an honor to watch each of you graduates grow. Now it is time for you to get out there and make the world a better place.”

Uinta County School District No. 1 Superintendent Ryan Thomas and assistant superintendent Doug Rigby certified that the 16 students had completed the qualifications for graduation and congratulated them on their success.

Hamilton and UCSD No. 1 board trustee Christa Weaver presented the diplomas to each student as they came forward to the cheers of the audience.

Video News