Park City High School biology and environmental science teacher Jim Fleming, left, accepts a photograph of him and one of his students, Liam Riley, from
Park City High School biology and environmental science teacher Jim Fleming, left, accepts a photograph of him and one of his students, Liam Riley, from Principal Bob O Connor at Tuesday s ceremony at the high school to honor the PCHS seniors with grade point averages in the top 10 percent of their class. Fleming was chosen as Riley s most inspirational teacher at school his senior year. Christopher Reeves/Park Record.
With graduation fast approaching, most Park City High School seniors have figured out where they are going to college in the fall as well as what they will be studying. Seniors with grade point averages in the top 10 percent of their graduating class were honored Wednesday night while their post-high school plans were announced.

Harvard University, the University of California - Los Angeles, Columbia University and Vanderbilt are several of the colleges PCHS seniors will be attending in the fall, a display of the hard work the students have put in to their education over the last 13 years.

"I am glad to be finishing my years here, and it will be interesting moving on," said Melissa Ruth, a senior and part of the top 10 percent. "I can't wait to see what the future brings."

The students were asked to choose a teacher they found to be the most inspirational, and their teacher was asked to join the student in front of the audience as Maureen Amendola read aloud the student's fondest memory of them.

Several teachers were called up to the front for numerous different students, and memories ranged from dissecting roadkill in environmental science and biology teacher Ed Mulick's class to "making terrible soap" in chemistry and physics teacher Janice Jones' class.

Mulick said he was honored to be chosen by so many different students, because it is a testament to the relationships he has built with them throughout their high school careers.


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"If you've ever seen 'Blackfish,' you know there's a scene where [killer whale] Tillikum grabs his trainer by the foot and drags him down to the bottom of the tank, brings him back up and then takes him down again, several times. That is what it's like teaching these kids," he said, laughing. "I mean that intellectually. They are so much smarter than us that they could take us out at any moment, but they don't."

Some of the areas of study the seniors will be focusing on in college include women's studies, archaeology, biomedical engineering and environmental science. Valedictorian Eleanor Burton will be attending Johns Hopkins University to study biophysics while salutatorian Andrew Carpenter will study engineering at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

Seniors Liam Riley and Dustin Howard spoke after the presentation of awards, cracking jokes like thanking Google, Wikipedia and other Internet search engines for getting them through four years of high school.

However, they did acknowledge their parents and teachers for their dedication to helping them succeed. Chloe DeCesaris said she has been to four different high schools in four years and has never attended a school with teachers more dedicated than those in Park City.

"They really care about their students, and they are passionate about what they teach," she said. "When they are passionate, you become passionate about it and really want to learn, not only for yourself but for your teacher."

The seniors celebrated with pastries and refreshments when the ceremony concluded, and Ruth said she is looking forward to the next chapter of her education and proud of what she has accomplished so far.

"I'm excited that I have made it through four years of high school and maintained the grades I have," she said. "I am excited to see what I am going to do with the rest of my life."