Scholars represent best PCHS has to offer
Sterling Scholars say honor validates hard work
November 29, 2016
Bryan Croce scrolled through the message and began to worry.
The Park City High School senior had applied to become one of the school's 2016 Sterling Scholars, a recognition that honors high-achieving students in a number of categories. But at first, he couldn't find his name on the email announcing the winners.
Until he reached the bottom. Croce, it turned out, had not won in a specific subject but had instead been named the school's Sterling Scholar in the general category. He hadn't expected that, but he exhaled and soaked in what he called "a pretty cool moment."
"I think it's definitely a cool experience to be named a Sterling Scholar," he said. "The entire class is full of kids that are incredibly qualified for this, so it's really cool to be recognized for the success I've been able to achieve in high school."
Croce was just one of 16 Park City High School students named Sterling Scholars. The others are as follows: Isabella Canada, World Languages; Matthew Burns, Vocal Performance; Jessica DiCaprio, Science; Morgan Yokubison, Dance; Lucia Feltovich, Visual Arts; Liz Cantlebary, Speech, Theater, Forensics; Marisa Zanetti, Family and Consumer Sciences; Alexia Gardner, Social Science; Kieran Ahern, Mathematics; Molly Hanrahan, Instrumental Music; Julia Case, English; Megan Peterson, Skilled and Technical Sciences; Jared Jones, Computer Technology; Kyle Haas, Business and Marketing; and Grant Gabrielson, Agricultural Science.
Heather Briley, scholarship adviser at Park City High School, said the 16 students were culled from a pool of 100 applicants. Nearly everyone who applied made a strong case to be chosen, leaving the committee that made the final decisions with a difficult task. The students ultimately picked represent the best the school has to offer.
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"It was so competitive," she said. "It was so exciting. These are the most qualified students in Park City, and I think they're going to represent really well in the regional competition. They're all so well-rounded that it was difficult to decide. … I'm so glad I didn't have to choose because they were all so awesome."
The significance of the award did not escape Croce, who felt honored to be chosen.
"I think validating is the best word," he said. "I've been putting in a lot of work in my high school career, and I try to be a well-rounded kid, so being named the general Sterling Scholar definitely validates all of that."
Near the end of March, the 16 students will compete against Sterling Scholars from other schools in a regional competition. Over the next several months, they will spend hours compiling portfolios showing off their academic qualifications, such as grades and ACT scores, and participation in extracurricular activities or volunteer work.
It will be a time-consuming and difficult task, but one some of the Sterling Scholars are looking forward to. Gardner, who said she applied, in part, to get her photo in the display at the school that honors the Sterling Scholars, said the portfolio is something she'll be able to use for years.
"I think it's sort of enjoyable to put together all of your accomplishments and have it together in one spot," she said. "You can also kind of use it as a resume later on. But it is going to be a lot of work on top of college applications."
Last year, four Park City High School students won their category at regionals, while six were runners up. Briley expects a similar level of success this year and said the students' dedication to activities outside of the classroom is what sets them apart from their peers at other schools. Part of that is due to the culture at PCHS, which fosters participation in clubs or sports teams.
"They have different internships, and a lot of them have already done research at the college level or taken college classes or concurrent enrollment," she said. "There are just a lot of opportunities here to prep them for college. Every year, they have (participated in) more activities and clubs and organizations. It's just kind of unbelievable that, at 17 or 18 years old, these kids are so with it."