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West Valley City Journal

Fifty-nine students earn academic recognition from WVC

Jun 23, 2017 11:01AM ● By Travis Barton

West Valley City elected officials stand with the students who were awarded the Mayor’s Star of Excellence for their academic performance. (Kevin Conde/West Valley City)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Fifty-nine students from Hunter, Granger, Taylorsville and Cyprus High Schools were awarded the Mayor’s Star of Excellence on May 23 during a West Valley City Council meeting. 

“It was pretty awesome, kind of unreal,” said Nathan Richards of receiving the accolade. 

Richards is a junior at Hunter High and was one of 23 students, the most of any school, to receive the Star of Excellence. 

The awards are given to top juniors in high school based on their GPA and ACT, the admissions index for public colleges and universities. 

City council chambers overflowed with parents, teachers, relatives and friends all on hand to see the students, one by one, receive their certificate and shake hands with the elected officials. 

The group photo had to take place outside due to the sheer number of attendees. 

“It was impressive,” said Mayor Ron Bigelow of the number of students as well as those who showed up in support. 

The overflow section of the council chambers was opened up with city employees adding chairs at the back in addition to the dozens who were left standing. 

“We’ll have to think about that,” Bigelow reflected. “Because we don’t want to dilute the impact on our students just because there’s a lot of them.”

Bigelow said promoting education is a continuous desire for him and the city council.  

“It’s great because we want to encourage students to achieve and excel and we want to recognize them when they do,” he said. 

Richards, who sports a 3.89 GPA, said he was surprised to be invited. 

“I got a text from my mom and it was like, ‘What?!’ and it was a picture of the invitation,” Richards said. 

Richards said it was “pretty cool” receiving the certificate and shaking hands with the elected officials, despite a mistake he made while serving a councilmember at the Family Fitness Center as a waiter. 

“I spilled eggs into his applesauce,” Richards said. 

Regardless of Richards’ skills waiting tables, his ability in the classroom earned him a special award that he won’t soon forget. He plans to attend BYU or the University of Utah before moving onto a career in film as a director or writer. 

Proper motivation to maintain his high academic standard Richards said was instilled at a young age by both his parents and circle of friends. 

In elementary school, Richards was friends with smart students who would mock him if he had the “lowest grades or a three out of a four.” 

“Ever since then I thought, ‘I’m not going to be the one being made fun of,’” Richards said. “It’s kind of competitive but a lot (of credit) has to go to my parents. There’s no doubt about it."