Lifetime legacy: The Maize district provides an education to five generations

The Claassen family tree leads back to the Maize District for over 100 years, with the latest generation graduating in just two months.


Illustration by Grant Waggoner

The Claassen family has been around the Maize district for generations. With the oldest photos on the left to the most recent and current graduate on the right, the Claassen family tree has grown with the district.

Bridget Johnson, Fusion Editor

Brady Claassen grew up with stories from his dad about his high school days with his friends nearly 25 years ago. 

Friday night football games.

The feeling of excitement on the field and in the stands.

“I just remember my dad is always reminiscing about all the trouble he got up to with all his friends and boys and all the crazy stuff they did over there all over three years,” Claassen said. “Now my grandpa’s stories, and his grandpa has the same stories as well. I hope to have that one day.”

113 years. Five generations. Over 20 graduates. 

The Maize school district started in the early 1900’s. 

The Claassen family has been a part of it since the beginning. 

W.J. Roof moved to Kansas in 1884, marrying into the Eberly family with Eberly Farm and later establishing a home for his family, now known as Cedar Lawn Farm, that is still inhabited by the family. Roof later sent his children to the small two room schoolhouse in 1909, with Don Roof graduating from the first class of the up-and-coming Maize district in 1913. 

The original two room schoolhouse was later moved into a larger six room building, known as Maize Park school. 

In the later years, the Enterprise, Pleasant Hills, Starwano, and Valley Grove schools were combined to continue to house the growing population of Maize. Donna Marciel Roof Kelley attended Maize Park school and graduated in 1939 with a class of 16 total peers. 

Maize High was again expanded with the addition of another new building in 1953, now Maize Central Elementary. Nancy Kelley, class of 1971, attended this school, following four older brothers and met Steve Claassen, who she later married.

Steve and Nancy Claassen built a home near the family farm in 1979 and in 1980 Steve was given the job of project manager for the construction of the original Maize High School building, currently the Maize Middle School. His two sons, Brandon Claassen and Daryl Claassen, later spent their four years at the next location of the district high school, graduating in 1997 and 1998. 

Brady Claassen is currently upholding the family legacy, graduating from Maize High’s sister school, Maize South this May and following in his father’s footsteps at Kansas State University’s engineering program. 

Brady Claassen began his journey in the district in kindergarten at Maize Central and has remained in the district since. 

“It’s been great,” Claassen said. “I’ve always felt welcomed; all the staff are always nice and have always helped me. I’ve never been in tough situations that I don’t like being in; just a great district. I’ve loved being here.” 

While his family has four generations of Eagles, Brady Claassen chose to go to Maize South high school when it came time to pick a school. Basing his decision off his friends and distance from his home, Claassen was able to get the community he ideally wanted in a school in the newest expansion of the Maize high schools.

His father, Brandon Claassen, supported the decision to attend Maize South and has enjoyed watching his son grow up during his time in the district.

“The district always felt, not like a rural community, but a small town community with all the schools in Maize, kind of make it feel that way,” Brandon Claassen said. “It’s not like everybody knew everybody else but you kind of had that sense. Friday nights at the football field is just like the community coming together.”

Both father and son played football throughout their time at Maize, with Brady playing from seventh grade to senior year and gaining more experience and relationships across the team.

“I’ve always loved playing football,” Brady Claassen said. “I was really nervous about it when I started playing in middle school. I’d never played before and I was immediately welcomed in and I had a blast playing it for years and that’s one of the thing’s I’ve always liked is the football program and it’s been a big part of my life and I’m going to be a little sad now that it’s over.”

Although Brady’s last season of football ended earlier in the school year, the connections he made on the team made an impact on his teammates that won’t soon be forgotten.

“Even after he tore his ACL he was still worrying about the team,” Junior lineman Ryan Kindt said. “Brady made an impact on me by believing in me before my first varsity start against Maize. Brady’s just a great guy.”

Brady did not get to finish his season because of an injury, but that did not stop him from forming connections and bringing the team together.

“My favorite thing about Brady is how serious he can be in the proper times but how goofy he can be when the time is right,” senior Tait Luce said. “My favorite memory was when me and him were both injured during the season and we got to bond over that.”

The Maize district has shaped Brady as a person and helped make him who he is today. His family recognizes the effort he puts into his day to day life as well as the person he has grown to be over his years. 

“Brady Claassen is a great young man and I’m very proud of him and what he’s accomplished,” Brandon Claassen said. “Academically he has been challenged throughout high school by taking on higher level math classes.  He’s gone farther than I did, including many hours college credit already.  His strong moral compass and exceptional character will serve him well throughout his life.”

In and outside of school, Brady is known to be respectable with strong principles to guide him through life.

“While great in stature, he is a gentle teddy bear, strong in his faith and his sense of right and wrong,” Nancy Claassen said. “We have been blessed to be actively involved in his life and watch him grow into, as his Great Great Grandfather Don Roof would be so proud to say…… ‘a young man with lofty ambitions uniting these with noblest ideals.’”

The Maize district has helped shape Brady into the person he is known to be today, just as it has done for the last five generations of his family and will continue to do for Brady’s younger siblings. 

“It’s kind of like a constant in your life. It’s something you can always rely on. Throughout anything, I’ve had over 18 years being here. Maize has always been here for me. It’s just a great thing to have a solid base.”