Loan credits hard work in becoming Central’s valedictorian

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Hazen Loan

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The end of another school year approaches and with it comes the awards ceremonies, graduation and speeches about leading your best life and working hard to get what you want. It’s also a time to remember who helped get you to graduation and through the stages of life. 


Sometimes these people are a hard working cousin named Cody, who was always willing to sacrifice his time. Sometimes it’s a neighbor named Blake, who acted like an older brother and pushed you to strive for success. Other times, it’s just a respectful individual named Matthew who taught you about integrity. They are the ones who smoothed over the bumps to accomplishments. 


For Hazen Loan, Central’s 2021 valedictorian, they were role models. Of course, there were also Hazen’s parents, who instilled at a very young age words of wisdom that provided guidance throughout his tenure as a Warrior. 


“My parents would always preach to my siblings and I, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it right.’ They are the reason I have gotten where I am today, and I could not thank them enough,” Hazen said. 


While being valedictorian was never a goal for Hazen, the achievement remains an honor. It validates his firm belief in hard work. 


Hazen didn’t just nose dive into the books and study. He became valedictorian through diligent focus, even as that focus was constantly pulled in multiple directions due to the numerous extra circular activities he participated in, including the Worthwhile 4-H club, FFA, National Honor Society, Clayton County BEST, the compost team and student council. 


Hazen also played baseball, basketball, football, golf and cross country, all of which makes becoming the valedictorian all the more impressive. 


It’s also these activities that will be missed when he walks across the graduating stage. 


“The biggest thing I am going to miss is accomplishing goals with great people. In all of the activities listed, I was part of a team who were always attempting to do something great for their school, community or even the world,” Hazen reflected.  


Hazen will also miss the busy schedule. Despite describing it as “overwhelming at times,” the sense of always having something to do or somewhere to go was a comforting notion. He liked having that routine—that familiarity of going to school, milking cows, being at sports practice, attending a club meeting, being around friends or simply hanging out in the garage. 


Graduating means new routines and a walk into the unfamiliar. While this could be daunting for most, Hazen views it as an opportunity to adapt and fill that time with new work, studies and activities. 


This optimism is probably an ingrained trait, but it also has something to do with what happened during the lost school year of COVID-19. Hazen used that time to reflect on life and what he wanted to accomplish. He set new, ambitious goals, such as completing a year of college online as a senior. He took the step of deleting all his social media platforms, hoping to return to a world of connecting with people face to face before they became buried in screens. He wanted to get to know people without being near a phone. 


Rather than losing something in the pandemic, Hazen gained something: good habits. 


“Some of them were showing up to work early and prepared, sitting and listening to what others have to say about their lives, speaking with people face-to-face and living in the moment, knowing everything could change in an instant,” Hazen said. 


There is maturity in Hazen’s words that indicates the ability to grow, examine strengths and weaknesses and make an effort to change them. It’s the advice he got from his parents applied to real world situations. 


This maturity is reflected in Hazen’s assertion that he would change nothing about high school. 


“If I could go back, there is nothing I would change. What I have done and been through has turned me into the person I am today,” he said. “Therefore, changing something would be changing the person I have become. Everything in the past has been something that has impacted my future, and for those experiences, I am nothing but grateful.”


Some of those experiences came in the classroom, such as writing and composition, his favorite subject. Being able to sit down and put thoughts on paper to share with others was something Hazen became fond of. 


However, the Bill Nye videos in science class, his least favorite subject, offered a different challenge: trying not to fall asleep.


When the school year ends, Hazen’s new schedule will include attending Iowa State University to pursue a degree in agricultural systems and technology. But before he gets there, he offered some final thoughts on being valedictorian and advice to future Warrior graduates.


“Being valedictorian is an accolade I can look back upon and know that I successfully handled all my schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and challenges life threw at me along the way. As for advice, the greatest life lesson I learned was take advantage of opportunities, always putting your best effort into them and success will come. There is nothing worse than sitting back and letting great things pass by you, so get up, work hard and good things will come,” Hazen said.

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