According to Bob O'Connor, principal at Park City High School, as the leader of the school it is always a special moment seeing students leave with success. Watching students grow up in the school district and leave with success is that much sweeter.
On May 8, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced this year's $2,500 scholarship winners. Two Park City High School seniors, Anne Fosburg and Matthew Parsons, were among 23 other Utah high school seniors to be selected for the award from a talent pool of more than 8,000 finalists nationwide.
"While I was principal at Treasure Mountain (Junior High) Anne and Matthew already stood out. They both have worked hard from the beginning and they continue to do so," O'Connor said. "I'm proud of what they have accomplished and know they will continue their great work ethic in college."
According to Nancy Michalko, PCHS scholarship advisor, the road to the National Merit Scholarship is a long one for students. In October of 2011, Fosburg and Parsons, along with 1.5 million other high school juniors from nearly 22,000 high schools took preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship qualifying tests.
Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation's high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state representational basis, according to a press release from the scholarship corporation.
"This scholarship doesn't represent a lot of money for college, but it can lead to a lot of other opportunities; sometimes even full-rides," Michalko said. "Earning this achievement is enough on its own."
With AP testing underway, both Fosburg and Parsons were unable to comment on their success, but the proud Michalko, who helps students acquire scholarships like these, wasn't shy when announcing the student's future plans.
Fosburg, who was recently named the school's valedictorian, will be attending Brown University located in Providence, R.I. in the fall to study philosophy.
According to Michalko, Fosburg, who is number one in her class, earned the valedictorian title not only through her grades, but through a vast experience in extracurricular activities including: President PCHS Environmental Club, National Honor Society (last three years), junior representative volunteer council at the Park City Medical Center, Zane Prep tutor.
"Sometimes the smartest person in the class isn't always the nicest, but in Anne's case, she is lovely, personable and involved," Michalko said during an interview. "She is a beloved member of our class and she will be missed. You'd see if she wasn't taking her physics AP test."
Parsons who has an interest in engineering will be attending Purdue University, located in Lafayette, Ind., an elite institution known for its engineering prowess.
An avid trumpet player in the varsity jazz band and wind ensemble, Parsons' activities rival Fosburg's, but unfortunately the school can only choose one valedictorian, according to Michalko.
"Not only did he participate in the Academic Decathlon, but he was the top scorer during the state and national tournaments this year," Michalko said. "Matthew is the type of student that does well wherever he puts his attention. His work ethic will serve him well in Indiana."
According to the scholarship press release, students were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors. Academic records, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by finalist; and a recommendation written by high school officials, like Principal O'Connor, were examined when selecting finalists.
"This was my first year at the high school and it was great getting reacquainted with students I had while at the junior high," O'Connor said. "Watching them succeed is extraordinary, especially at this level."
Park City High School graduation is taking place at Dozier Field Friday, June 7 at 5 p.m. A list of graduates will be provided for publication by the high school after the last week of classes.