Park City High School announces Sterling Scholar winners
Every year, whittling through dozens of qualified candidates proves to be a challenge for the committee tasked with choosing Sterling Scholars at Park City High School.
This year, the bar was raised even higher. More than 90 students applied for the 16 awards, and nearly all of them were worthy of serious consideration, said Heather Briley, the school’s scholarship adviser. The students were judged based on several criteria, including leadership, community service, citizenship and academics.
"I wish I had been as cool as these kids in high school," Briley said. "The things these students are doing, and the activities they’re participating in, and their grades and everything — they’re really just stellar students. It was hard to narrow it down because we felt like there were so many deserving students. But the winning students really rose to the top."
Briley said the Sterling Scholar winners represent the best Park City High has to offer. For winning, they each earned a $500 private scholarship and will go on to compete in the regional Sterling Scholar competition near the end of March. The students and the categories they excelled in are as follows: Nick Coleman, English; Jackson Burton, mathematics; Beckett Ricks, social science; Sarah Marshall, science; Kristen Mosher, world languages; Micaela Berglund, computer technology; Florent Astie, skilled and technical sciences education; Reyna Tellez Rea, agricultural sciences; Hannah Phillips, family and consumer sciences; McCauley Finnegan, business and marketing; Caitlin Silianoff, speech/theater/forensics; Madeleine Davis, vocal performance; Martina Herbert, visual arts; Leo Peters, instrumental music; Katelyn Thompson, dance; Claire Breiholz, general.
Many of the students prepared for years to apply for the awards. Breiholz, for instance, first knew she wanted to be a Sterling Scholar during her sophomore year, when she saw a large display in the high school honoring that year’s recipients.
"I looked at those pictures and I said to myself that I was going to be one of them," she said, adding that she has kept a resume of her accomplishments since ninth grade.
Finnegan noticed the same display. Her reaction was different that Breiholz’s, but it eventually led her to also apply.
"When we came into the high school as sophomores and you see that display case with all the pictures, it seemed like this big, prestigious thing," she said. "It was something that I was like, ‘Oh, I could never do that. I could never be one of those kids.’ But as I started taking classes and getting involved in clubs, it became clear that business was my drive and I wanted to apply for Sterling Scholar. I felt I had a solid shot at it."
The years of hard work the students put in made finding out they had won that much sweeter. Coleman, who wants to go to the University of Utah and pursue a career in politics, said the moment he was told he won was "super rewarding."
"It’s just a feeling like everything that you’ve done is starting to pay off," he said. "You’re starting to reap the benefits. In high school, you’re told that if you participate in a bunch of clubs and activities, it will pay off for you. And it’s nice that in my senior year, that’s all starting to come together."
For Finnegan, winning the award means she is one step closer to fulfilling her dream of working in the business or marketing fields. She is on the leadership board for the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club and is counting the Sterling Scholar honor as another valuable feather in her cap.
"It’s really exciting to have this accomplishment on top of the ones I have from (FBLA)," she said. "Being able to build credentials in that area is so beneficial when I’m applying to college programs."
The students will now prepare for the regional competition, where they will have a shot at another $500 scholarship. Breiholz, for one, is looking forward to trying to impress the panel of judges that awaits.
"It’s going to be an opportunity to show who I am and what I have to offer," she said. "I mean, I’ve put in so much work these past four years, so it’s going to be exciting to talk to people who have never met me about it and give them a good first impression about who I am as student and a person."
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A district spokesperson said six students were removed from an area in the school as police conducted a search.