At the annual breakfast for top graduating seniors at Marana High School, six of the top ten students were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Chief among them were valedictorian Richard Rigby and salutatorian McKay Boyack.
“I can’t take a lot of credit, said Rigby. “[All of my achievements] are due to my family and how I was raised.”
Richard was born in Hong Kong, and lived there until he was three. Then his parents divorced. “That impacted me a lot,” he said.
His older brother went to live with his father, and he and his sister, who is two years older than he, stayed with his mother. However, illness prevented his mother from being able to fully care for her children. Rigby is very grateful that his grandmother, Marie Hill of the Tucson West Stake, took them all in. “She got me into sports and extra stuff. That was a big part of my academic success.”
He was on the cross country team all four years of high school, lettered on the varsity squad for two years, and was president of the team for a year. He was also on the tennis team, playing four years for the varsity. He was the number-one player for two years, and won the Coach’s Team Leader Award twice. Additionally, he was the co-founder and vice president of the school’s ping pong club.
His leadership ability was further honed during four years in Key Club, an organization that teaches high school students to lead in service projects in their communities. He also served on the prom committee and participated in an extended mock-government workshop, in which he was “elected” to the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“My testimony of Jesus Christ has definitely helped me. I wouldn’t be valedictorian if I hadn’t been raised Mormon.The Lord has helped me so much.”
His relationships with friends in seminary were also very important. “Seminary is an awesome way to start the day. And six of the top ten in the class are Mormon. We had classes together and did assignments together.”
Seminary is a four-year course of study of the scriptures of the Church. Participation is purely voluntary and does not count for school credit, but many Mormon youth eagerly flock to classes every day.
Though Richard has won a scholarship to BYU, he will put that on hold for 2 years to serve a mission. “It feels like the right thing to do,” he said. When he returns, he plans to major in engineering and earn an MBA. “I’m sure my plans will change 20 times [before I finish].”
McKay Boyack is salutatorian of the class. “It’s an honor,” she said. “My testimony of Jesus Christ has affected my ability to achieve this and other honors. Without it, I wouldn’t have as strong a work ethic as I have, because a lot of my work ethic is ingrained with my testimony. Prayer has helped me with important tests, comforting me when I know that I’ve studied all I can and just relying on the Lord to help me get through school and the rough patches. “
Boyack is also a 4-year member of Key Club, and a 2-year member of Mu Alpha Theta—an honor society for mathematics—and the National Honor Society.
She also works at a local library. There she not only gains work experience, but enjoys finding other people who love reading and writing. These interests have led her to accept placement at BYU-Idaho, where she will study communications with an emphasis on public relations. “I still have to research career paths within public relations,” she said, “but as I have checked out some, that’s what I think would fit my strengths.”
McKay spoke at both high school graduation and seminary graduation. She noted the importance of seminary in her growth. “One of the major things [seminary does] is to help you learn about the gospel—to understand, to build testimony. It helps me understand in more than the superficial way you sometimes get in elementary years.” She concluded, “I wouldn’t know nearly as much about the scriptures without seminary.”
Seminary classes have helped her in other ways, too. “I’ve been able to form lasting friendships with people who are of the same standards as me. I’ve learned to distinguish between who are good friends and who maybe are not so good of friends. And those qualities that I’ve learned in seminary, both spiritually and socially, will impact me the rest of my life, I think.”