“I was dead set on Viewmont. I was like ‘there is no way I’m switching schools.’ I just didn’t want to switch my senior year,’” said Aubrey Rushton, a student government officer at Farmington High School, “but the more I thought about it ... there were so many more opportunities.”
Rushton knew she wanted to be in student government and thought she had a better chance winning a spot as part of Farmington’s first senior class, a small group of about 220 students.
She’d also been having a tough time with friends during her years at Viewmont, so she decided the switch to find a new group.
Rushton was also excited to go to a new school.
“I would be the first graduating class — that’s so cool,” she said.
The first class of 222 students graduated from Farmington High School Wednesday morning, 110 of them female and 112 male. The class had been awarded more than two million dollars in scholarships, according to information provided by the school district.
Farmington’s first graduates all have their own stories, but similar themes run through them — trouble with friends at previous schools, a desire for more opportunities to be involved and a newfound feeling of unity among a class free of cliques.
“Honestly, I think a lot of kids did it because it’s a fresh start,” said Sidney Page, senior class vice president at Farmington, speaking about the seniors who chose the school. “I’ve met a lot of kids that came over because maybe they were bullied, or they just didn’t like the school they were at. A lot of them came over alone to escape their other schools, which I think is something our senior class almost has in common.”
Even Page — who had the guts to campaign among many people she didn’t know — said she ran into problems making friends when she went to Davis High School.
“I didn’t really have a lot of friends at my other school,” Page said. “And then I found out I had the opportunity to become an officer ... and I was like ‘that’s amazing — I would love to do that.’”
Page said that the students she knows who had trouble at their previous schools “love it here.”
Many said they hit their stride.
“It’s been the best year ever,” Rushton said. “I’ve had so much fun. I’ve made so many friends. And it’s just been such a happy environment because we took the two different rival schools and put them together ... at my last high school, there were so many cliques, and I could never fit into them. Farmington ... is just one big giant group.”
“I feel like we’re just one big happy family here, especially the senior class. Since we’re so small, we’re really unified. I think most of us knew everybody that was here tonight,” said Bekah Hacking, another student government officer, about the school’s “senior sunset” event.
At the beginning of the year, the senior class watched a sunrise together and wrote letters to their future selves. At the end of the year, they gathered for a “senior sunset,” where they played games, opened the letters they’d written to themselves and took pictures.
At least 100 seniors were at the event — a pretty high turnout rate.
“It’s really cool to have such a small class because I’ve always been in bigger classes,” Hacking said. “It kind of reminds me of elementary when we were growing up together.”
But building that unity wasn’t easy.
“A challenge was the student body really coming together to have school spirit because they both came from different schools,” said Brandon Russon, a member of the class. “So it was hard to ... have that feeling of unity, but over time it’s gotten stronger.”
Russon said a highlight of his year was starting an a cappella club that put on performances. About 20 students participated in the club.
“I got lots of opportunities to do stuff like that here,” he said.
However, Russon said his favorite part of the school was actually the learning model.
“I think the best of Farmington High School for me is the learning platform, the education that they provide,” said Russon. “It’s kind of a good transition into college — self-discipline and learning how to do things on your own, whereas other schools don’t really have that yet.”
Russon was talking about Summit Learning, an online learning platform where students can move at their own pace, as part of the school’s competency-based model.
According to Summit Learning’s website, “the platform is an online tool ... where students work through projects, submit schoolwork, take tests and access a variety of materials for their classes.”
T.J. Stefl, another member of the class, said it was a challenge to learn a whole new online platform with Summit. As a sophomore, he didn’t really use Canvas (a different learning platform at his previous school), then as juniors, his cohort had to learn how to use it.
It was a steep learning curve to switch to yet another learning platform as a senior. But Stefl said he rose to the challenge.
“I think the biggest thing for me was being able to balance my schoolwork and my friends and my fitness that I compete in,” Stefl said. “So I was able to keep a pretty hard class load and apply for colleges and things like that all throughout the year, and still have a good time.”
Stefl said the Summit Learning platform made this possible. He’s self-disciplined, so he said he could get ahead in classes that were easier, giving him more time for those that were more challenging.
But whether it was the challenge of a new learning platform or building class unity, Stefl said there was one thing everyone had in common that helped them through the stress of change.
“I think one of the good things, seniors and teachers ... they chose to be here,” Stefl said. “So nobody’s mad or complains a lot about the school because everybody chose to come.”