Park City High School juniors with the top 35 grade point averages in their class were recognized by the school district and Superintendent Ember Conley
Park City High School juniors with the top 35 grade point averages in their class were recognized by the school district and Superintendent Ember Conley last Thursday, April 24. Christopher Reeves/Park Record.
College usually seems to be the topic of conversations with high school seniors preparing to graduate, but Westminster College's vice president for enrollment management John Baworowsky believes the conversation should begin when students are juniors. He took the time to share that opinion with Park City High School juniors as they were recognized for earning high enough grades to land them in the top 10 percent of their class Thursday, April 24.

According to high school Principal Bob O'Connor, about 350 students are expected to graduate in May 2015. The students with the top 35 GPAs were honored Thursday night, and he said the goal was to get them to start thinking about college.

Superintendent Ember Conley spoke to the students and their parents before certificates of recognition were handed out to the juniors. She said she was happy to begin the "end of the year rollercoaster" by recognizing students' hard work as well as their parents' and talked to the students about achieving their goals.

"I was the youngest of four siblings raised by a mother who didn't graduate from high school and a dad who was a Korean War veteran," she said. "I came from a family that not only believed in hard work but also education. Unfortunately, they didn't exactly have the skills to support me in that, which is where my teachers came in."

Conley fondly remembered a teacher from her junior year of high school that encouraged her to think positively and embrace the potential she saw in her.


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She urged the students in attendance to do the same.

Baworowsky lectured the students on conducting an effective college search. The presentation covered selecting the right college in terms of academic programs, location and affiliation.

"Does the college you want to go to have your major?" he asked the students. "Nearly one-third of all college students are 'undecided,' almost 40 percent change their majors, and about half of all college graduates don't work in the field they studied for."

Location is also important, he added, because larger cities usually have more internship opportunities available while smaller towns have more of a college environment. Larger schools also have larger class sizes and more opportunities to get involved on campus.

Baworowsky accepted questions from the audience after concluding his presentation. Questions ranged from "Why college is so expensive?" to "Should I try to meet early acceptance deadlines?"

Park City High School junior Alex Jackson said Baworowsky's remarks on the importance of locale reinforced his decision as to where to go to college. He has visited colleges in Denver, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Vermont, and now more than ever, he hopes to attend Dartmouth College.

"I am a cross-country skier, and Dartmouth has a really good ski program," he said. "That's something I'm looking at doing in college, so right now, that's my top choice."

Jackson's classmate and fellow honoree, Natalie Beal, said Baworowsky's comments on being open-minded about where to attend college will stick with her as she decides where to apply. She has visited several colleges, but the one that she is hoping to get accepted into is California Polytechnic State University.

"I'm just going to keep my options and really evaluate what I'm looking for in a school," she said. "It's not about the name of the school but what qualities it has and if it's a good fit for me."

Jackson would like to study biochemistry and conduct medical research while Beal would like to study environmental science, attend law school and study environmental law.

Conley said she hopes the lecture motivates the students to start working towards those goals starting now.

"I hope this is just their first taste of success in high school, and this is only the beginning," she said.