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High School graduation in polygamous town shows times are changing

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HILDALE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – It’s one of the smallest graduation classes in the state, and every student who received their diploma from Water Canyon High School on Monday has big reason to celebrate.

Water Canyon High School has been open for three years now. The first year there was one graduate, the second year there were six, and this year—there are 25.

Amy Barlow’s high school graduation brought tears to many who have come to watch her receive her diploma. In her big family she’s number 14 of 16 children.

“I’m the first to graduate high school out of 16 kids. They’re so excited and so happy for me,” said Barlow.

Amy grew up in Hildale near the Utah/Arizona border. It’ headquarters for the FLDS church, along with it’s neighboring Colorado City. Polygamy is a common practice.  When FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was in power he banned education.  Water Canyon High School is the first public school in the city in more than a decade, its student body is growing rapidly.

“I’ve been waiting for this time for a long time, and now that it’s here it’s just like full of joy,” said Barlow.

“Thank you for letting me be a part of this, congratulations of this great work, and God bless you in your future,” said Lt. Governor Spencer Cox as he spoke to the newly minted graduates.

“We work and talk routinely with the mayor here and other elected officials, and we’re trying to improve those relationships, and especially trying to improve the lives of the people that live here,” said Cox.

As for Amy, she has big plans.

“I’m going to Dixie, and I’m going to go to business school,” said Barlow.

But she doesn’t plan to permanently leave the town she loves, Instead she wants to be a part of the difference- continuing to making Hildale thrive and grow.

“I want to come back here and build a business here,” said Barlow.

There has been so much growth for the school that a 42 acres expansion plan is in the works. New classes will include tech, and there will also be sporting opportunities. 

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