A cold evening warmed by joyous celebration | ParkRecord.com
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A cold evening warmed by joyous celebration

The overflow crowd at the 2008 Park City High School commencement ceremony filled the stands, the portable bleachers, folding chairs on the track and the grass knolls along the football field, despite the fact that the temperature dipped low and the wind picked up. Chilly weather also didn’t seem to deter the graduates themselves who tossed around a beach ball between speeches and performances.

The ceremony began with the time-honored processional and a rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" by graduating student Alexa Tritt. The PCHS band livened up the evening by performing all of the music just below the home bleachers. On a windy night as the sound from the speakers blew off onto the field, their accompaniment made for a nice touch.

Three student speakers took the podium next, each of whom brought their own unique styles. John Patterson brought his point of view as senior class president. Ian Painter, valedictorian, talked about success as he claimed that the "difference" between failure and achievement "lies in motivation." John Sanderson, salutatorian, added a bit of comic relief. He commented that a high school senior would be at the height of hubris if he spoke about life experience to adults, then went on to do it anyway. Sanderson also spoke a bit fondly of his mother before saying "Mom, I told you not to mess with my speech," and throwing his papers into the wind.

Next to the stage, Kasey Coyle strummed an acoustic guitar solo she wrote especially for graduation. The charming and relaxed melody masked commentary on education like; "13 years stuck in servitude" and "the important thing is we made it alive."

Elisabeth Archer struck a more serious note as student speaker when she spoke to the irony of transition. "All the things we are trying to escape, we will miss, she said." Archer also tried to bring her talk into the future as she stated, "look ahead. Don’t look back."

Hillary Hays, principal of PCHS, was the final speaker at the podium before the diplomas were handed out to the more than 300 students in the class of 2008. Hays quoted Gandhi and said, "integrity is a person’s most valuable aspect." She concluded by saying that this class was "a group of students ready to meet the challenge of the world."

The students then received their diplomas, their robes blowing in the wind, in short time and with good syncopation. Veteran teachers Bill Kahn, Craig Watson and Bob Burns had the honor of handing the diplomas to the seniors.

After the final diploma was given, the PCHS band struck up the "Raiders March" by John Williams, best known as the theme to "Indiana Jones." The classic soundtrack created a dramatic note and climax to the evening.

Last of the speakers, student body president Dallin Quinn presented a short speech in which he claimed, "I know that all of us here can reach our goals." Following his abbreviated commentary, he led the students in flipping their tassels and marched with the rest of the class to the hill behind the visitors’ side of the field.

After the entire class filed in order onto the visiting bleachers, the class of 2008 tossed their caps into the air and began the celebration as family and friends walked up the hill to greet and congratulate them.


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