Senior walk tradition held at Hayes


Seniors at Hayes High School celebrated the end of their high school studies Thursday by taking part in the senior walk tradition around the school.

The seniors were proceeded by the Grand Pacer Marching Band, which played the fight song as it led the seniors out of the student parking lot, down to Euclid Avenue and into Cornell Stadium.

Principal Rex Reeder said the Hayes Class of 2024 has done “a lot of great things at Hayes.”

“It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown,” Reeder said. “They been through COVID, persevered through that and (became) probably one of the most digitally techsavy classes we’ve ever had in the history of Hayes. It’s a class that’s definitely going to be remember for a long time that made a difference here at Hayes.”

Reeder spoke to the students after they assembled in the gym before the walk began and encouraged them to savor their final moments at Hayes.

“You’re a great class,” Reeder said. “You’ve done a lot for this school, and you’re going to do great things. You mean a lot to me. I know some of you want to get this over and ‘let’s roll,’ but I want you to know; take it from somebody who is old, that’s me, let me give you a little advice; I want you to enjoy every minute. When you take this last walk … I challenge you to just take it slow. These are moments that go quickly. I was never patient at your age, but try to enjoy the moment. That’s what life is about. You’ll know what I mean when you’re older.”

Senior Gabe Recker said Thursday that he was excited for the walk and graduation and is looking forward to studying electrical engineering in Toledo after he graduates.

“I’m excited,” Recker said. “I’m just excited to be done, and I want to get it done.”

Lois Abonjuah, a senior, said the end of her time at Hayes felt “kind of surreal.”

“I knew I was going to graduate one day, but I never thought that day would actually come,” Abonjuah said. “I’m pretty excited but also a little nervous.”

Abonjuah said she plans to attend Ohio State University Marion to study linguistics and said she’ll miss the school spirit and community at Hayes.

Lilli Murrell, a senior, said she was “really excited” for the senior walk and graduation, despite the heat Thursday.

“I feel like a lot of stress is being lift off my shoulders,” Murrell said. “One more walk … I’m nervous on how (graduation) is going to happen, but I’m excited.”

Murrell said she plans to join the workforce after graduating.

Senior Kairon Mwebe said he felt “really good” Thursday and was excited to graduate and be able to make his own decisions.

“Once I get into the real world, I can actually do stuff,” Mwebe said. “Now I can focus my time on Roth IRAs, buying land, investing, which is all the stuff I plan to do, but I really enjoyed all these years of school. It’s surreal to see all my time is going to be up to me. Throughout the day, every single year, my time has been dictated by either school or my parents.”

Mwebe said he’s excited to come back to Hayes on Monday for the House Games.

“I don’t want to miss it. It’s going to be my last time doing this,” Mwebe said. “(I’m part of) Prospect Hill. It’s the best house even though we lose every year. I feel like we could really do it (this year).”

Friday’s ceremony at Cornell Stadium was the first of two commencements that senior Zoey SanFillipo will take part in this weekend, since she will also return to the stadium today for the Delaware Area Career Center Completion Ceremony.

“I’m super excited,” SanFillipo said. “I’m super ready to start my career … I’m really happy, but I’m definitely sad. I’ve made a lot of memories at both schools, and it’s weird to make this transition.”

SanFillipo said she plans to work at the Delaware County Jail after graduation and is thankful for the lessons she learned at Hayes and the DACC.

“I definitely (appreciate) the friends I’ve made and the support I’ve gained,” SanFillipo said. “(I’ve grown) not only career-wise but who I am as a person. It’s been really cool. Hayes is a great school and so is the career center, and I’m really glad I chose to go to both.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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