"The mothers have been the cheerleaders, the bakers, the chauffeurs, the braggers, the nurturers and the support," said Athenaeum Club president Marilyn Boschetto. "For that, they certainly deserve as much recognition as their graduates."
Athenaeum Club member Sue Worley invited Kayla Guillory, Molly Leavens and Eleanor Johnston to the podium to recognize them as Outstanding Girl Graduates. Worley said they were chosen because they excelled at several important things throughout their time at the high school.
"Nowhere in our club literature does it define what is 'outstanding,' so we had to think about whether that meant they were outstanding athletically, at leadership, in extracurricular activities or performing community service," Worley said. "All three of these girls have been in line with all four areas."
Guillory and Johnston were representatives of the high school at the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Foundation competition in May and Leavens attended the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State competition. They also have grade point averages above 4.0 and are involved in various extracurricular activities and sports.
Leavens said she will be taking a "gap year" after graduation to work and intern in the fall, ski race in the winter, take languages courses in Spain in the spring and perform volunteer work in leprosy colonies in India during the summer.
Guillory will be attending Stanford University in the fall to study biomedical engineering while Johnston said she is unsure of what she will be studying at Williams College in Massachusetts.
Salutatorian Eleanor Burton and Devon Dunmire were also recognized for their academic achievements for being ranked second and third in their class, respectively. Burton will attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall to study biophysics while Dunmire has received a scholarship to play soccer and study physical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.
The Park City Treblemakers, a women's acapella group, performed several songs for attendees after beginning the event with their version of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Miss Utah Ciera Pekarcik from Farmington then gave an inspirational speech for the young women and their mothers, telling them about the hardships she has overcome to become the successful young woman she is today.
A victim of sexual abuse as a child, she has worked for several years to get H.B. 286 - Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, or "Erin's Law,' passed in the Utah State Legislature, a feat she was finally able to accomplish during the general session this year.
She spoke about the emotional damage a traumatic experience like that had on her by likening her self-worth to a ball of Play-Doh. She said she had given pieces of her self-worth to other people and let them shape and define her.
"It wasn't until I took [those pieces] back and made myself and my happiness my first focus that I was able to piece my self-worth back together into what I wanted to be, not anyone else," she said. "Once you make that your main focus, I promise you will be able to accomplish absolutely anything you want to."
When the event concluded, Boschetto said she hoped the young women and their mothers would leave knowing the hard work they put in throughout their time in the Park City School District was recognized and appreciated.
"This is such a big milestone in their lives, and we love being able to honor them for it and recognize their mothers for being that pillar of support," she said. "They will all go on to do great things, and hopefully they'll come back to Park City one day and even become members of our club."