HUDSON — Soon they'll walk across the stage to collect their diplomas. But first the seniors had to surf across the Slip 'n Slides and spray each other with monster squirt guns.
The Senior Tailgate Party at Hudson High on Thursday was a last hurrah for the Class of 2009, which will officially leave high school at next week's graduation ceremony. The party at the school's practice field was also a rather sloppy mess, as the seniors playfully dueled in giant inflatable bounce games, tossed water balloons at each other and ended up covered in grass and mud.
Best friends Tori Taylor and Brooklyn McCain ended their slide together with some good natured mud-wrestling as Wipe Out played loud in the background.
"We were the best class," Brooklyn said as she wiped gobs of dirt out of her eye. "We have a lot of good memories — like homecoming. We went all out for homecoming senior year."
"I'm going to miss it," Todd Rushing said, after taking his turn across the water slide with Hunter Newton. "Pretty soon everyone's going to be leaving."
"It's going to be different," Hunter said. "Not seeing your friends every day."
The Class of 2009 has been defined by its school spirit and inclusive nature, said English teacher Allison Poindexter, who serves as co-sponsor for the senior class along with her husband and fellow teacher Stu Poindexter.
"They have outrageous spirit," she said. "The kids here really love Hudson High. They try to be leaders. They paint themselves at football games and all the sporting events. I see generosity and compassion in these kids. They care about other people."
Brooke Taylor, the senior class president, concurred. "This is one close-knit class. There's really not anyone that's not involved."
It was in the junior year that the class really began to meld, especially after they beat out the upperclassmen during Spirit Week, Brooke said.
"We are not into cliques. We are who we are and we're okay with that," she said.
But moving on — well that's a mixed bag.
"It's exciting but sad, too," Brooke said. "We've been together so long — some of us since elementary school, some for the last four years. This is a day we never thought would come and it's here. It's very surreal."
No doubt the Class of 2009 will leave its own imprint at Hudson High and perhaps long into the future.
"They've been a great bunch of kids, athletically and in the classroom," said assistant principal Scott Davey as he grilled hotdogs and hamburgers for the senior revelers. "A lot of them will be successful, I'm sure, and then we can hit them up for alumni contributions in a few years."
But for now, it was all about the party.
"It's such a nice way to end the year — to let them have fun," Davey said.
"I've already been the victim of one water balloon, but that's okay. I'm sure there will be more."