ProRodeo Sports News - June 26, 2020

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE READY TO RODEO The Hadley-Luzerne Central School District in New York was shut down March 13, and Dustin LaFountain spent the down time fishing and working on his bull riding. He plans to begin his ProRodeo permit this summer and travel with First Frontier Circuit cowboys Ben Havill and A.J. Clarke. “I don’t really know what to think about it, but when I’m 80 my kids and grand - kids will ask me what it was like and I’ll be able to tell them the truth, that it was hard and it wasn’t easy,” LaFountain said.

And now it’s where he’ll take a significant step into adulthood. “I just get choked up because it’s the future of rodeo,” Shana said. “A little kindness goes a long way, and we love our community. Painted Pony started in 1953. It didn’t always stay as that (name), but since 2002 when my husband got it, we got a strong place in the community. Our Lions Club parks the cars for the rodeos, and that’s their fundraising season. We love to give back.” FIRST FRONTIER’S FIRST RODEO GRADUATION Graduation ceremonies are in the same boat as ProRodeo competitions, having to change plans at the spur of the moment based on local and regional government orders. Ovitt proposed his idea in May, and the school had to go through county and state rules for safety precautions. Meanwhile, state regulations were in a fluid state of change. “I have officiated many PRCA rodeos at Painted Pony, and now due to the Grahams’ generosity, I will get the honor of officiating the first ever graduation at the Painted Pony hosted by a PRCA stock contractor,” Ovitt said. “Within two days they re-did the bleachers and painted and everything to prepare the arena. They took it and ran with it.” There was no time to sit and wait out the “what ifs,” as Painted Pony prepared for the June 26 ceremony. Word travels fast in a small town, and the graduates were appreciative.

“It’s crazy that we came into this world during 9/11, a world-changing event, and we’re graduating into another world-changing event,” said 2020 Hadley-Luzerne graduate AndrewWarner. “Everyone in our class is lucky that the location and opportunity has arisen. With the COVID-19 situation, we didn’t even think we would have a graduation, but when I heard it would be at the Painted Pony, my face lit up with excitement.” June 26 is the original date the district had planned for their graduation. “Some schools are putting it off to July, but we don’t want to do that since some kids are heading to the military, college or have vacation plans,” Ovitt said. As of June 22, New York state had more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any state in the U.S. with 175,211 confirmed cases, and that’s not counting the 214,002 cases in New York City, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re about four hours from the city, so we’re very blessed and have low, low, cases so we’ve been truly lucky,” Shana said. “The last 15 days we’ve had no cases, but the city was hard-hit. The state is coming out of it, we went from the highest to the lowest. It was very scary.” One week before the Painted Pony rodeo’s summer series begins, the arena will be filled with graduation caps instead of cowboy hats. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing, and everyone at Painted Pony has given back to the community,” Warner said. “It really is heartwarming to know you have people out there who care.”

Photo courtesy Megan Moulton Painted Pony Championship Rodeo’s arena had a different winner’s circle during the upstate New York school’s graduation on June 26.

ProRodeo Sports News 6/26/2020


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