Commencement speakers address their experiences
The brain power at this table would be enough to make ACT graders run and hide, but the hardest question may also be the simplest for this little group of high school overachievers: "What changed most about you during high school?"
Ian Joseph Painter, valedictorian, John William Sanderson, salutatorian, Dallin Quinn, student body president, John Patterson, senior class president and Elisabeth Archer, student speaker, all sat down to discuss their high school experiences last week in the days before each of them prepared their speeches for Park City High School graduation.
"(It’s) sobering to look back and realize how significant it’s been," said Sanderson speaking of his high school experience. The key, said Painter, is to "enjoy high school, don’t take it so seriously." Quinn called it a transition period, an "easier time to change who you are."
Although each of these students proved their valor inside the classroom, these graduating seniors will leave PCHS as active members of the high school community. Their involvement, they say has been one key to their success. Quinn said that it a vital component to taking full advantage of high school is "being involved and using your time wisely."
Survival in high school also means social interaction and all five of these students were impressed with the personal fluidity at PCHS. "At PCHS there isn’t a main popular group," said Patterson. "Everyone will just kind of mingle," said Quinn. Your friends, they continued, can match your interests and flow just as quickly.
As the last class of ninth-graders to enter PCHS, they might have been the last students to undergo official freshman hazing, but Patterson said that it never really played out that way. The high school becomes a melting pot even though the switch from middle school can seem "a huge change both academically and socially" according to Archer. Although, said Sanderson, competition permeates through every level of PCHS it’s never really "a cutthroat thing."
In fact, most of the seniors found the atmosphere at PCHS to be conducive to success. "If you want it, you can get it," said Archer. They also universally credited their teachers for helping them along. Their instructors, they claimed, consistently made themselves available and taught at a high level according to Sanderson.
All of the resources that these seniors recommend, they continued, are only of use if students get involved and take advantage of them. "Getting involved is what kept me going," said Archer. A balanced student, Quinn said, will be able to take advantage of the school’s programs and still allow for studying. "The biggest test (of high school) is time management," he said.
That considered, the students also agreed that PCHS offers plenty of help if a student is wise enough to seek those resources. Most of them acknowledged the support of the community scholarship advisor, Dana Ardovino, and suggested that others take full advantage of her availability as an advantage most high school students don’t have. They also showed a deep appreciation for the guidance afforded to them by their counselors.
One of the many adults that helped them along the path at PCHS, Kelly Yeates, asked about their graduation speeches. "(We will) avoid traditional platitudes said Sanderson. Each of the speakers will address the audience for a handful of minutes and most of them are still working on their comments. At the very least, these students might well address their growth and maturity over the past four years, the one thing they could agree that has changed about each of them during high school.
Looking forward, none of these students are at all intimidated by college, although each of them will attend a major four-year school. "The idea of college doesn’t scare any of us," said Patterson. "(We) can really blossom in college," added Sanderson. Most importantly, said Quinn, "we can decide when we have classes (so we don’t have to have them so early)."
Becca Gerber, a first-term member of the Park City Council who is seen as bringing a younger person’s perspective to the Marsac Building, will seek reelection this year.