PROVO — These days, a Provo High state champion is perhaps just as likely to take the form of a first tenor as it is a first baseman.

Friday afternoon, the last day of school, Provo High School Principal Samuel L. Ray invited more than 100 students to join him for lunch and to recognize a group of state champions covering more than just athletics. Those gathered included Provo High students who earned top state honors in everything from catering to auto mechanics to choir and almost anything in between.

Ray attributes some of his students' success to the emphasis educators at Provo High put on activities outside the classroom.

"We strongly encourage kids to be involved in extracurricular activities," he said. "If they are tethered to a group with a coach, with peers, they do a lot better academically."

The rest of it, he said, has a lot to do with the type of kids who attend Provo High.

"I think the diversity is amazing at our school, and the kids like each other and get along," he said. "We have kids from 40 different countries — we have kids from all different socioeconomic levels, all different ethnic backgrounds, all different languages. And for the most part they like each other and they get along really well."

Ray said the opportunities at Provo High are there for the taking, especially for students who financially wouldn't be able to participate in these activities otherwise.

"If a kid comes to Provo High and leaves Provo High not feeling like they were included, or that they weren't reached out to, we have either hugely failed or they have, because the opportunities at Provo High are almost too abundant. We just have everything," said Cory Mendenhall, director of Provo High's choral groups.

The Concert Choir received the highest marks of any school recently at this year's Utah Music Educators Association State Music Festival. Additionally, the Advanced Women's Ensemble and Chamber Singers earned superior marks from judges at recent competitions.

A Provo High automotive team recently won a five-state competition held at Weber State and another team won the state Ford/AAA competition a few weeks ago. The Provo High catering team won its state competition before heading off to California to compete in a national competition.

Two students won the state Skills USA electronics competition and will compete nationally. A business student won the state title for his international business plan, and three economics students took first place at the Utah Economics Challenge.

Recently, the varsity ballroom dance team won the Utah State High School Ballroom Dance title for the fourth year in a row. Additionally, a drama student earned a state medal for earning the highest score possible for a monologue.

And last but not least, the Provo medley relay team won the state 4A title with one of those athletes earning the state title in javelin.

"The students will rise to the expectations they are given," said Angela Williams, Provo High ballroom dance director. "I've been told by many parents, 'Wow, you have very high expectations for our kids.' Yeah, I do, because I know they can meet those expectations."


E-mail: jdavis@desnews.com