Senior Spotlight: Maya Allen, Ana Sauceda, and Hazel Spedding


From left to right: Maya, Ana, and Hazel

At Keystone, a “lifer” is a student who has attended the school since kindergarten. The Class of ‘23 has a considerable number of lifers this year, and there are no better examples of such students than Maya Allen, Ana Sauceda, and Hazel Spedding. Having known them for over a decade, I can safely say that as one of Keystone’s longest-lasting friendships, the trio has fundamentally shaped the school throughout their time here.

Of course, the trio first met in kindergarten—after all, there were only so many people at recess. They also interacted with each other in other activities such as Girl Scouts, and Hazel and Maya first became friends in first grade. The three of them didn’t truly become an item, however, until around fourth grade when they bonded over the popular book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Their similar taste in novels extended to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and a plethora of other YA genre books. Keystone’s tight-knit atmosphere facilitated their bonding during this formative period, and a long-lasting friendship bloomed.

Their lower school years were ripe with mischievous anecdotes, and the trio’s influence on Keystone began early. In our interview—coming to a Cobra Radio podcast near you—Maya recalls how they were responsible for the banning of rainbow looms (bracelets made out of rubber bands) in third grade—the so-called “rainbow loom incident.” A few students, including Maya, would sometimes make them inside their desks out of small compartments as Ms. Steward taught. Eventually, rainbow loom privileges—making and wearing them—got revoked. Ana brings up a time the group made a lower school economy out of acorns, and Hazel described the Percy Jackson Society on the playground—which Ana and Maya quickly shush them about. But Hazel continues to detail a fight the three of them had over who was in charge and could sit on the top step of the staircase, an obvious seat of prominence. Still, the trio got over their fight within hours.

In middle school, their friendship continued to grow as they played YMCA volleyball outside of school for the next few years with “Coach Bill” instructing them. Hazel and Maya also had similar tastes in music during their “emo era.” The three of them also were a significant part of the infamous middle school Google Docs. As Hazel puts it, “We’re gonna leave it at that.” Ana adds on, “We’re probably the reason for a lot of rules that the middle schoolers now have to [endure].”

Inside the classroom, all three cite Keystone’s middle school academics as a formative learning experience. Beginning with Ms. Luckie as the fifth and sixth-grade English teacher, Maya recalls the first time they failed a paper and realized how important the skill of writing would be for the rest of their academic career. Ms. Tyroff’s 1,000,000 Word Challenge (a program encouraging students to read one million words through the school year) encouraged them all to continue reading even as academic work began to consume more and more of their time. All three agreed that Keystone middle school well prepares their students for high school coursework—with a bit of procrastination, of course, as is the Keystone way. But the classes weren’t just challenging; they could also be fun. Just about every student in her class has fond memories of former middle school science teacher Ms. Darr, and Hazel, Ana, and Maya are no exception.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic hit during the tail end of their freshman year of high school, their friendship has remained strong. During the first semester of their sophomore year, Hazel attended a wilderness semester school where they had no access to a phone or the Internet. And yet, Maya and Ana hand-wrote letters to mail to Hazel, and all three of them kept in contact with each other, even if not all of them were on campus together. Even as their academic workload increased, they continued to make time for each other by furiously trying to figure out their chemistry homework together on the day of the deadline. Throughout their years, however, they each grew into their own separate interests.

Having been a member since freshman year, Hazel is now the leader of Quizbowl, a Keystone club centered around trivia. Meeting every Friday morning and some Thursdays, they gather up to a dozen or more students in Dr. Lawrence’s room to compete over which team knows more about anything ranging from musical history to video games to chemical bonds. Ana also joined after listening in on their Zoom meetings, and Maya now intermittently attends meetings. Hazel is also one of the Senior Editors of the Literary Magazine (Litmag), a role that encompasses everything from biweekly poetry analysis, quarterly Stone Soul planning, and designing the titular magazine in the spring. This year, Hazel was also elected as a Student Council (StuCo) representative for the Class of ‘23 (an honor that Maya takes full credit for because they nominated Hazel). In this role, they facilitate interclass activities for the high school and encourage attendance for school events. Finally, Hazel is captain of Keystone’s softball team, which they have been a part of since freshman year with Ana—and Maya has joined this year. The team has a strong culture that has been developed throughout the last few years—in which Hazel has played a big role. Hosting sleepovers and other hangouts, the team has become another microcosm of Keystone’s community. Hazel has committed to Smith College, a liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts. Though they don’t exactly know what career they want, they are interested in pursuing education like their parents, likely in the realm of English or history.

Ana has also been deeply involved in her activities throughout high school. A part of Wellness Council since freshman year, she has witnessed its transformation from an open club to an elected seat. As one of the Presidents of the club, she has learned how to advocate student opinion to the administration. Her most recent accomplishment is the recent Wellness Council-sponsored acai bowl event, where every student in high school received a free bowl last week. Ana was a strong proponent of the event, and any student will say it was a success. She has also been a significant member of the softball team since freshman year. Though she is presently out of commission for a short while due to an injury, she will be back and ready to play very soon. She is also a leader in Foreign Language Club (FLC), a group that promotes cultural awareness and volunteering. Setting up various events for volunteering, as well as FLC’s famous “llama party” (a celebration with llamas for FLC members who volunteered their time throughout the year), Ana has become a significant leader on and off campus. Still in the midst of the college process, Ana knows that she wants to go into medicine in the future.

Maya has also been a leader throughout their years at Keystone. As a part of the student government, they have been the treasurer for the Class of ‘23 since their freshman year. Between setting up pizza sales, organizing activities, and keeping track of the Seniors’ money, they certainly have their hands full. Student government takes on its most challenging tasks in junior year: Valentine’s Day and prom. Maya handled it beautifully. Though everyone in the class pitched in, Maya managed the thousands of dollars flowing in and out of Nurse Penny’s room and the College Corner while budgeting for Prom taking place just two months later. Year-round, Maya also helps to encourage school events and govern the class as a whole for regular activities. Outside of their role as treasurer, Maya is also a member of Quiz Bowl, often decimating others with their specialist knowledge of pop culture and other topics. After managing the softball team in their freshman year and playing as a substitute last year, they joined the team this year—after years of being an honorary member, they’ve made it official. Maya is also searching for an institution to attend for the next four years, but they have remained steadfast in their interest in psychology research, hoping to perhaps be a professor in the field one day.

Maya, Ana, and Hazel are the people who come to mind when I think about Keystone, when I think about who best represents the student body and our values. I see Hazel making consistently astute literature connections in our Litmag meetings, Maya solving calculus faster than I can read a problem, and Ana taking a stand during Wellness Council meets (and in the line at Dutch Bros). Though they have been together for thirteen years or so, they have all become their own people who I am ecstatic to call my friends. Though it’s sad to see such close friends part ways, I know that they all have bright futures ahead of them, and just as they have left their marks on Keystone, they will do the same wherever they go.