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This year, Rowland Hall graduates its largest senior class ever: 90 students. Of these seniors, 30 of them are lifers—students who have attended our school for 12 or more years. They will matriculate to 52 different colleges and universities this fall, and 77% of them were offered merit-based aid to continue their education. Seven were finalists for National Merit Scholarships, and many were awarded scholarships from local and national organizations, including the Salt Lake Rotary Club, Youthlinc, and the American Red Cross.
The class of 2017 includes top-notch debaters who received multiple bids to the Tournament of Champions, were named National Speech and Debate Association Academic All-Americans, and won the prestigious Young Lawyers Tournament. Budding scientists and engineers, they embraced the maker movement, building items such as a robotic arm and a hovercraft. Two young women were honored with Aspirations in Computing awards from the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Five seniors competed as members of the first two Bench-to-Bedside high school teams. Both teams created innovative medical devices, and one brought home two prizes totaling $5,500. One student developed and marketed an app to encourage the use of alternate transportation, and partnered with another to design an award-winning virtual reality game for patients with autism spectrum disorder.
Our seniors excelled as athletes: each year of their Upper School careers, our athletics program placed among the top five in the Deseret News 2A All-Sports Awards. They earned 23 Region titles and five State titles as teams, with individuals winning 12 Region and nine State titles. Eight seniors are Rowmark Ski Academy athletes, who collectively earned 13 top-five finishes at championship events around the country. Another competed as a big-mountain skier, and was named a Freeride Junior World Champion. Outside of school, students played for club soccer and volleyball teams, ran marathons (even in Antarctica), and earned black belts in karate or Soo Bahk Do. This class includes a professional mountain biker, a member of the U-19 Utah Lady Grizzlies hockey club, an elite gymnast, a Junior Olympian in fencing, a member of the US Figure Skating Scholastic Honors Team, and a top-10 finisher in USA Swimming.
This group has no shortage of accomplished artists, including dancers, poets, painters, and singers. They led the award-winning Upper School Orchestra and the Jazz Band, and individually competed on instruments ranging from piano to conga drums. These artists performed with groups such as the Voodoo Orchestra and La Onda Caribeña, and played in front of crowds at the Telluride Jazz Festival and Glasgow Music Festival. One group of musicians formed the Lincoln Street Jazz Company, sharing their talents at local assisted-living facilities. Several of our seniors will continue their musical studies in college.
Their collaborative spirit was evident in service-learning projects, with a team of 20 students partnering with the Navajo Nation in Southern Utah. They planted garden boxes, mentored children, and interviewed hospice volunteers on the reservation, and two students created a film documenting their collective experience. Two seniors led Middle School students through a sustainability project that won the Shane McConkey EcoChallenge and created a bench out of recycled water bottles. Individually, the class of 2017 volunteered countless hours both locally and abroad, tutoring refugees, caring for shelter animals, lobbying for environmental protections, and organizing blood drives. It is difficult to quantify the impact their good citizenship will have on the world.
This class understands the value of hard work, with some holding jobs as lifeguards, coaches, baristas, or tutors. They explored potential career paths through internships at the University of Utah, Red Butte Gardens, Alliance for a Better Utah, and the Salt Lake Film Society. Several enrolled in summer sessions, including at Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, and one participated in a mock United Nations program to learn about global policy issues. Even summer travel was educational, with one young man joining University of Cambridge faculty on an archeological dig and anthropological trip to Kenyan villages.
Our seniors' personal experiences have made them resilient and compassionate: some have families that immigrated from war-torn countries, and many work to combat religious, racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination. They speak languages ranging from Italian to Swahili, have traveled to South Korea, New Zealand, and China, and continually seek to build bridges with people of differing backgrounds.
Members of the class of 2017 will leave their mark on the community, whether as a world-ranked junior skateboarder, clothing designer, dedicated unicyclist, or passionate equestrian. While we cannot list all of their achievements here, we hope you share our pride in celebrating these outstanding graduates.