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Peyton Durning | Student Spotlight | Class of 2022

Posted Date: 04/08/2022

Picture of Payten Durning.In many ways, Payten epitomizes old-school, southern values starting with sports. As a multi-sport athlete, he has played football and baseball, shot archery, and run track for the Hillbillies. 

He considered continuing his track career in college and had offers to do so but chose not to. He explained, “I don’t really need to show myself in college. I feel like, if God wanted me to, He would push me more towards it.” 

Payten looks back fondly on memories of playing Hillbilly football with his brother, Keystan Durning. “Playing with him was definitely some of the best times in my football career…lining up and getting to see my brother across the field from me and always knowing that he’s got my back…it hit me hard when we played our last game in Stuttgart.”

The future that Payten sees for athletics in his life is with the family he hopes to have one day. “If I do have a son or daughter, I would like to be interactive with their sports. I would like to play with them — grow them up knowing about sports. Hopefully, they will play as well; if they don’t, that’s fine too.”

He speaks highly of his school and others. Of OHS, he said, “There’s a lot of opportunities to get help, if needed, or like to be part of a club…there’s lots of opportunities where you can be yourself…no matter what I am struggling in, I can get help — like with the after school tutoring…I feel like that is really good for students.”

Payten said that his father, grandfather, and Mr. Ben Culver, OHS agricultural education teacher, have had the most influence on him. “My father…he’s taught me to be the man that I am today and he makes sure that I have a really strong work ethic…My matter what, he’s got my back…no matter what, I can always go to him. He also pushes me to go to church and always believe Jesus…Mr. Culver…he’s just taught me a whole lot. I wouldn’t know half the stuff I know today if it wasn’t for him. He’s really good, and he knows what’s best for me. He’s there for you.”

Payten values politeness illustrated in his frequent use of “yes, ma’am” or “no, ma’am.” When asked about his favorite teacher, he gave a diplomatic, southern answer. “I love all my teachers, honesty. I can’t pick a favorite. All my teachers are great…they want what’s best for me.”

He values hard work, demonstrated in his favorite class, Mr. Culver’s Advanced Ag Mechanics. “I like to be out in the shop and gettin’ my hands dirty as much as I can. I feel like I learn better that way…I feel like he [Mr. Culver] teaches me a lot for the outside world, and it’s things that I can save money on.”

Even Payten’s favorites are southern. His favorite song is “Red Dirt Road” by Brooks & Dunn,  and his favorite meal is medium-rare steak with green beans and his mom’s mashed potatoes. If he could meet any famous person, he would meet the King of Country Music, George Strait. 

After high school, Payten plans to attend auctioneer school, pursue a real estate license, work on his family’s farm, and eventually run his family’s business.

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Contact Information

Ozark High School
1631 Hillbilly Drive
Ozark, Arkansas 72949
Phone: 479-667-4116
Fax: 479-667-5921