O'Connor was previously the principal at Treasure Mountain Junior High School, so he said he has watched this class grow up from the time they entered eighth-grade. Over the past five years, he has seen them become academic and service club leaders, win state sports championships and gain acceptance into Ivy League schools.
"When we handed out the top 10 percent awards, the cut-off for the top 10 percent in this class was a grade point average of 4.2," he said. "So that was about 35 kids with GPAs above a 4.2, which is pretty impressive."
About a third of the class, 128 students, were accepted into the University of Utah. While most are choosing not to attend the university, O'Connor said it was remarkable that so many students in one graduating class were accepted.
Students will be attending other colleges across the United States, including Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Ole Miss, Harvard, Columbia, San Diego State University and the University of Wisconsin. Valedictorian Zachary Laufer will be attending the University of Southern California while salutatorian Eleanor Burton will study at Johns Hopkins University.
O'Connor said he has also been "blown away" by the leadership in the extracurricular clubs on campus, most notably the officers and members of the Gay-Straight Alliance.
"To take a stand for that diversity takes an incredible amount of courage, particularly in a high school setting," he said. "I am amazed at the level of acceptance of diversity the student body has, and that comes from the leadership of Nicole 'Cozy' Huggins, Jeremy Billow, Colby Judd and a host of other kids who stepped up and got well-deserved national recognition for it."
The athletes in the graduating class also stepped up to the plate, so to speak, winning nine state championships this year. PCHS took the top place in mountain biking, boys golf, girls tennis, girls cross country, boys and girls swimming, girls track and boys and girls lacrosse. O'Connor said that does not include the individual state champions, a vast improvement over last year.
When it comes to academic competitions, the students did so well the high school's National Competition Fund ran dry before the school year was even over. Sending the Academic Decathlon club to Hawaii for Nationals took a big bite out of the fund, O'Connor said, but using up the entire $10,000 fund for the academic achievements of the students was remarkable.
Now entering his third year as principal of the high school, O'Connor said it has been a "huge shift in responsibilities" and said he is still getting used to it. However, watching his former junior high school students excel is a rewarding payoff.
The class of 2014 may be moving on, but O'Connor will remain at the high school anticipating the extraordinary accomplishments the entering class of 2015 will have to show for themselves by the end of next year.
"It is another great group of kids that I have known for a long time," said O'Connor. "I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do."