Attending one school for a lifetime

Seniors reflect on their Yutan K-12 experiences

One of the unique things about small schools is how many students attend the same school their entire lives. From kindergarten to twelfth grade, 17 seniors who have attended Yutan Public Schools since kindergarten have been able to grow bonds with both old and new classmates. These strong friendships will contribute to making their upcoming graduation bittersweet.

“I’ve grown a bond with the people that have been here since forever, and it’s definitely going to be one of the harder things that’s going to get to me when I graduate,” said senior Zoie Nielsen.

Third grader Josh Fisher, who is now a senior, poses with his fish. Since moving to Yutan, Fisher has been able to experience many small town experiences like fishing. (Courtesy Photo)

While many seniors have gone to Yutan their whole life, they all have varied reasons as to why they started at Yutan. To some of the students, their relatives have graduated from Yutan.

“My mom and my uncle both graduated from Yutan High School,” said Nielsen.

Other seniors moved into Yutan as their elementary years were starting.

“My parents lived in a small apartment in Omaha, and then they moved out to here,” said senior Joshua Fisher, who moved to Yutan before kindergarten.

As most of the seniors have been friends with each other since elementary school, there is comfort in not feeling the need to fit in all the time. 

“You don’t have to try to fit in with other people because you have grown up with these people your whole life, and they just know you,” said senior Janel Bussing. 

All this time in Yutan has also provided the seniors with many fun memories throughout elementary and high school. 

“My favorite memory was probably being at recess, playing tag and playing by the trees,” Nielsen said. 

Other than recess, many students’ favorite memories incorporated certain teachers. 

“My favorite memory has to be when Mr. Teeter pulled his Mickey Mouse voice out of nowhere, and nobody was expecting it,” said Fisher.

Brett Martin (back left), Emma Abraham (back right) and Zoie Nielsen (right front) smile with past classmates behind their Halloween project. Many Yutan seniors have been able to make memories with each other since kindergarten. (Courtesy Photo)

While many people in the senior class have been familiar with each other since elementary school, they have had to adjust when their grade either lost or gained new students.

“Our class started off with 18 to 20 kids, and then some of those kids even moved away. Then we just got so many kids coming here. It was weird,” said Fisher. 

These new students not only were able to fit in and make new friends right away, but they also helped sports teams to succeed.

“I’m really good friends with some of the new people now. It’s grown our grade and made us stronger in sports,” said Nielsen.

While reflecting on their journey through public school, the seniors who have gone to Yutan since elementary school noted both the advantages and disadvantages of going to one school their whole lives.

Nielsen is glad she has gone to one school system. 

“I like being familiar with where I’m at,” Nielsen said. “I would be messed up if I went somewhere else.”

Other students enjoyed going to one school because of the teachers that they met at Yutan.

“I like how Class C is small and the teachers get personal with you. They make you want to learn,” Fisher said.

There can also be drawbacks to being in such a small grade, which made some seniors want to go to a larger school because of their negative experiences. 

“Sometimes being in one school your whole life makes you feel differently because of the way people treat other people at school,” said Bussing. 

As a whole, the seniors who have gone to Yutan since elementary school agreed on one thing: there has always been change. 

“Nothing really has stayed the same,” said Fisher. “Everybody changes when they grow up.”