Student Spotlight – FHU’s Payden Estes Represents Students at the March Board Meeting

Posted on 03/13/2020
Payden Estes and the Board of Education

The Board of Education welcomed FHU student, Payden Estes, as the student representative for the March Board meeting. Estes has been a part of the FHSD community since fifth grade at Henderson Elementary. Now, as a senior, Estes begins each day at FHU by greeting all of the staff members with a smile.

Estes is known to be a smart, caring, kind, and fun young man who is very family oriented. He has always been very curious, adventurous, and a bit stubborn. He is an amazing artist and enjoys writing and illustrating stories. Along with his creativity, he also has a passion for video games.

Payden’s school career has been a journey as he has worked to find his way. He was diagnosed on the spectrum at age nine, so interactions with teachers and school were a challenge for him. He felt unmotivated and disconnected. The cycle continued through middle school and high school where he felt as though he was lost in the crowd.

Payden was accepted to FHU in his junior year. During his time at FHU, his whole attitude about school and the world changed. He began to develop genuine relationships with his teachers. For the first time ever in his education, his mother started hearing stories about his school day and his teachers.

She shared a memory from when Payden just started his time at FHU. His teacher emailed her asking what Payden liked to do, hoping to open up conversations and get to know him. With that simple gesture, Payden finally found a place to be himself and truly be a part of a community.

“I really have seen a large growth in Payden both socially and academically,” said FHU Principal Robert Gaugh. “When he first started with us, he was resistant to building a relationship with any teacher and did not want to work very hard on his classwork. He is now talking to different teachers and is on track to graduate in May. He is really a success story in so many ways.”

Estes has come very far and recently participated in a pilot program testing new Virtual Reality additions meant to enhance the rigor and experience of the online curriculum provider used across the District.

Outside of school Estes works at Taco Bell, excelling in all areas of the restaurant including training new hires. He is undecided upon his next steps after FHU, but is more motivated than ever to succeed and continue to grow as a young man. FHU is proud to have such an amazing young man represent their school this month.

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