Life isn’t about beating others, but setting and then besting your own personal records.

That was the message May 24 from Payson High School’s Cole Tenney, the class of 2019 salutatorian, speaking before the class of 116 graduates along with stands packed with family and friends.

Tenney said in track and field, a sport he competed in throughout high school, PRs or personal records are big with athletes.

“Ask if they would rather set a PR or get first and most would have a PR,” he said. “We would rather see progress than outperform others.”

Tenney urged his classmates to take pride in their achievements, however great or small, and to “revel in personal records.”

Before a race, Tenney said coach Jonathan Ball taught them to envision the run and the finish. Tenney said the same technique could be applied in life toward any goal.

“You have to see it in your mind,” he said.

And whenever you are unsure if you can do it, Tenney said to remember, “you have what it takes — because you do.”

Valedictorian Kajal Daya reminded graduates to see failure as a tool in personal growth and not something that defines a person.

“Success is defined by the life you live,” she said.

Principal Jeff Simon congratulated the class for their accomplishments. Those included completing 1,200 dual enrollment college credit hours and receiving $1.475 million in scholarship offers. He also acknowledged a handful who had signed up for military service.

At the end of his speech he asked, “What will you do with your chance?”

And sending them off with one last performance under band director Kyle Headstream (who is leaving the district to work on cruise ships) the band rocked out to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

The PHS choir performed “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Scholarship recipients

Raegen Ashby, Cloee Beeler, Bobbie Benkert, Amy Borges, Taylor Brade, Xing Brouwer, Elena Burciaga, Ronald Butler, Kailey Carnes, Carli Carpenter, Azuncena Coronado, Brock Davis, Kajal Daya, Tienara Dean, Luis Diaz, Samuel Doria, Caitlin Gann, Hannah Goldman, Makyla Hill, Olivia Hobson, Katrina Kendall, Meredith Kiekintveld, Angelina Knorr, Melissa LaSpisa, Perla Luna, Tanner Mansoor, Rayce Mathews, Timothy McCarthy, Peter Menghini, Mercedes Miranda, Rylinn Neese, Kyla Pacheco, David Pasquini-Jonasson, Ibeth Perez, Tara Ramirez, Austin Rice, Hailey Roberson, Gage Ryden, Megan Ryden, Elly Schreur, Lilya Smith, Makiah Taylor, Cole Tenney, Anyssa Thompson, Ivan Wade, Andrew Ward, Savanna White and Katelynn Wilbanks.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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