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Park City High School 2024 graduates celebrate accomplishments and give advice for the future

Park City High School seniors graduated on the Dozier football field Friday, June 7. The students received tens of millions of dollars in scholarships.

Park City High School’s Class of 2024 had 407 graduates and every single senior was on hand for the Friday evening commencement.

During the ceremony, Principal Roger Arbabi shared senior accomplishments: 15% of the class are first-generation students, with 66% of them planning to attend college.

Over 90% of the graduating class took Advanced Placement and concurrent enrollment classes to get college credit. Further, over 80% of all seniors are pursuing higher education, attending 110 different universities in 34 states and three countries. Those students received nearly $20 million in scholarships.

However, Arbabi said, the Class of 2024’s accomplishments extend far beyond the classroom.

“This graduating class left their mark in the arts, whether it be through the music program, who had so many breathtaking performances and earned straight ones at state, dancers who put on the show ‘Life is a Dance,’ the theater nerds who put on ‘Chicago,’ or the visual arts students with colorful displays around the school,” he said. “You have embraced creativity as a means of expression.” 

The senior class also excelled in athletics, with almost 60% of students participating in sports. Girls soccer, boys golf, girls swimming and girls and boys lacrosse teams all finished in the top three in the state. The mountain biking and hockey team won state championships and the high school had its first female wrestling state champion.

Each of the student speakers at graduation gave their fellow graduates advice. Valedictorian Hale Nickell reminded students they had achieved something spectacular, but the real joy is the people they share their accomplishments with. He also told his class not to put themselves in a box. While Nickell said he was known as a nerdy type in school, he was very different outside of the classroom.

“Don't force yourself into a label, know different people and don't limit your own personality. It will let you be more, see more and know more,” he said.

Salutatorian George Beal's speech was a challenge to see if ChatGPT could write a better graduation speech. While the AI chatbot did have a relatable inside joke of the high school’s unofficial motto “fresh powder today, homework tomorrow,” Beal ended his speech with self-drafted flare.

“I don't think that AI is going to take over the world because it lacks something that we here have in abundance: creativity," he said. "I've seen some truly incredible things be accomplished by this class, when we set our minds to it, we are the ones with the power to change the world, let’s go and do it.”

Senior Class President Scarlett Brinton gave the event’s last speech. She said she didn’t want her speech to sound like ChatGPT wrote it and was struggling to avoid cliches. But through an exercise where Brinton asked the audience to raise their hands if they had attended prom or heard the advice to live in the moment, she showed cliches exist for a reason.

“To end with some more cliche advice, value the time you have left in Park City, but do not forget to embrace the future and the autonomy it delivers,” Brinton said.

And, while many students are excited to leave this small, intimate community, she said many students will yearn for the familiarity and predictability of their hometown.