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Valedictorian worked four years for the title

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

During his freshman year in high school Derek Painter settled into the rigors of high school academia and started thinking he would like to be valedictorian for the class of 2006. Following four years of hard work that ambition has been realized.

"After about freshman year it was one of my goals and I’m always surprised and exuberant when I achieve my goals. But there was a lot of competition, it wasn’t something I was banking on immensely," he said. "It feels good to accomplish something I’ve been working towards."

While Painter is first in his class of 306 students he said there are other students who are more accomplished in their own areas.

"It’s hard to say that I feel like I’m at the top, I definitely agree that I have earned my position," he said.

In creating the goal he gave up many things including going out on weekends and most weeknights as he focused on academics. Caffeine also played an important role.

He explained that what it takes to be valedictorian is, "lots and lots of coffee, late nights and a lot of work. You definitely have to sacrifice a lot for it."

Painter is the President of the Gay Straight Alliance at Park City High School and also captain of the Academic Decathlon Team, which took first in the state this year. The team took home a gold banner for winning first in their division at nationals in San Antonio, Texas.

He took on a heavy load of A.P. classes and volunteers at the National Ability Center.

"Mostly I worked with the ski program, but recently I’ve been helping the camps program get started," he said.

In the fall Painter will start at the University of Utah where he was awarded the Presidential Scholarship which covers his expenses for four years, including tuition.

His favorite thing about high school has been, "Mandatory class loads, otherwise I probably never would have taken some of the courses I took."

That includes the art requirement which he filled by being a stage tech, and his internship class which introduced him to the NAC, where he continues to volunteer after 2 years.

As for his fellow graduates, Painter said the class of 2006 is too broad to name one defining characteristic.

"It’s a very diverse class as far as achievements go," he said.

He added that this year is a good time to be graduating.

"We are fortunate to be leaving when we are, just when construction starts," he said noting that many great teachers are also retiring this year or are on the verge of retirement.

The advice he leaves with his peers is to keep active, "Don’t be lazy, I think that we’re a lazy society. That is not meant as a criticism but I don’t feel we go out and get engaged in politics. We sit and watch television."

Painter predicted the future of most of Park City High School’s graduates:

"I think that we’re just going to integrate with the rest of the world," he said adding that of all the high school graduates for 2006 around the globe there will probably be an extraordinary few who leave their mark on the world.

The Park City High School graduation will be held on Friday, June 9 at the Canyons resort at 5 p.m.


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