Park City High School graduates 308
June 13, 2007
In front of Dozier Field bleachers too small to hold all the thousands of well-wishers, 308 graduates of the class of 2007 stood on the field dressed in red and white robes, received their diplomas and prepared to begin the lives of their own design.
Park City High School principal Hilary Hays called them "One of the most diverse classes I’ve ever seen in our school."
The commencement was planned to be held on the football field weather permitting. Students rehearsed under rain clouds the morning before graduation, undaunted, some wearing shorts and sandals, confident of a successful outcome regardless of weather.
Soon-to-be graduates gathered in the gym to go over last-minute details as family and community members gathered in the stands of the football field.
"I’m glad I’m a guy, I like the red a lot better than the white," valedictorian and senior class president Tyler Scott said of the men’s robe color.
Some who had ordered gowns last-minute were concerned they would be neither red nor white, as they waited for the uniform man to appear in the gym with extra caps and gowns.
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Joan Mills, a retiring PCHS counselor helped graduates with random concerns. Her PCHS career would soon end on the football field with the students.
"I want to try new things," she said, considering her years at the high school. "I’d never stayed in a job for more than five years until I came here I’ve been here 18 years. It’s all been the people, the faculty and the students." This graduation had special significance for her as many of her friends’ children were graduating.
Scott, who will attend Stanford in the fall, was excited to be graduating. "I think everyone here is ready," adding he thought most of his classmates would attend the graduate party at the South Summit Aquatic Center, scheduled to last until 2 a.m. mainly as one last chance to be together. "I will definitely keep in touch with these people," he said.
Vice Principal David McNaughton mingled with students in the gym. "This is exciting. I’ve never been sorry to see a class leave. I’m happy and excited to see them take a new direction."
Student Jared Pursell spent three years at Park City High School, plans to attend Westmont College in the fall, a Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, which he said he chose after "careful, prairful consideration. He hopes to eventually do missionary work.
Malone Dunlavy, a friend of Pursell’s was waiting for the man with the red robes to show. Dunlavy said he plans to attend massage school, followed by art school, in hopes that giving massages will pay for his art education. As he waited for the robes, he said, "I shouldn’t have cut my hair so short" He cut it to please his parents, he said.
Students borrowed pens to sign their names on their red or white mortar boards, for recovery after tossing them skyward after graduation.
PCHS principal Hilary Hays said of the students surrounding her in the gym, "These kids are so stunning. I’m nervous because I think I’m going to cry."
Half an hour before graduation, at the football field entrance, a volunteer looked up at the billowy clouds and then greeted an entering spectator with, "We were supposed to have thunderstorms tonight, but the gods are on our side I guess."
Student Erika Keffer’s grandparents Sue and Mike Bedard, came out from California for her graduation. He wore a red shirt, and they brought red folding chairs unaware of school colors.
Rich Stoler, whose daughter Stephanie was graduating said after moving from Maryland three years earlier, "we went from what we thought would be outstanding private school in Maryland to PCHS, that was an outstanding school. Everything here has turned out to be superior." Stephanie will attend George Washington University in the fall.
The line of students rose over the hill and into the stadium, and their way to their chairs on the field.
Student body president Alex Lee said many of the seniors had spent their entire academic careers with school buildings under construction. As a result, he said, "We have the worst case of senioritis. Let’s go out into the world and do things. Let’s show what the effects of senioritis can do."
Scott, in his speech, said "Teachers at PCHS are some of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever seen." He gave special recognition to Special Education, which had nine students graduating. "It’s our most underrated program," he said.
Hays spoke of graduating student Madeleine Johnson, who was going to be the fifth-generation from her family to graduate from PCHS. Thirty-six family members had graduated from the school over the last 98 years.
Following the commencement, the graduates of the Class of 2007 moved across the field to the opposite bleachers to line up for group photos. They tossed their caps into the air. Graduates left the stands and were greeted by family and friends.