During her four years at Half Moon Bay High School, Hayley Sperinde found her community.

First in her volleyball team, which stayed close while training outdoors during the pandemic. Then in the science and math departments, where her teachers, including Mr. Centoni, who taught her in third grade then freshman and junior years, gave her the foundation needed to pursue a career in science.

“I feel like he’s really created my love for science,” Sperinde said.

Sperinde is off to University of California, San Diego, next year to study bioengineering with an emphasis on bioinformatics, the study of biological data. She’s eager for independence but said she knows the workload will be intense.

For Sperinde, it’s hard to imagine leaving the lifelong friendships she’s enjoyed in Half Moon Bay.

Leadership comes naturally to Sperinde, who coached gymnastics and even started a local club to help people experiencing homelessness. What she’ll bring to her new home are her memories of Cougar sporting events, senior celebrations and a community 100 percent behind her.

“Our school is really centered on Cougar spirit and Half Moon Bay pride,” Sperinde said.

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