Valedictorians and Salutatorians lead the way for the Class of 2012

May 25, 2012

Graduation ceremonies will soon begin, and we are pleased to feature our high school valedictorians and salutatorians for this year.

DVDs of Northside’s graduation ceremonies are available for purchase online. Each DVD is a professionally-produced DVD of the complete graduation ceremony. DVDs cost $18 plus a $1.75 handling fee per transaction.

In addition, each graduation ceremony will be streamed live at www.nisd.net beginning 15 minutes before the ceremony.

Brandeis High School

Brandeis
Michael Anderson, Valedictorian
Ouwen Huang, Salutatorian

Michael Anderson is this year’s valedictorian at Brandeis High School. He plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station, majoring in mechanical engineering. The son of Randy and Patti Anderson, he received a multitude of scholarships including the Rice University Trustee Distinguished Scholarship, the Brandeis High School PTSA scholarship, Texas A&M President’s Endowed scholarship, Texas Scholar Award, and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers scholarship – all totaling in excess of $2 million. While in high school, he served as assistant concertmaster of the Varsity Orchestra, captain of the UIL Computer Science Team and Mathematics Team, and Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy Scholar at UTHSCSA.

“I would like to extend my sincere sense of appreciation to my family, friends, school officials, and teachers for their incessant efforts to ensure my success in my pursuit to be one of tomorrow’s leading physicians, as well as research scientists,” he said.

Ouwen Huang, this year’s salutatorian at Brandeis High School, plans to attend either Duke University or Johns Hopkins University, majoring in bioengineering. The son of David Huang and Maggie Zhu, he has received multiple scholarships including the USAA Employee Dependent scholarship award. While in high school, he served as president of the Mu Alpha Theta, captain of the UIL Science Team, student researcher for UTHSCSA, and programmer for the robotics team.

“Life is about making connections, no one can survive alone, and no thought can survive alone,” he said. “So to that, I would like to thank all the teachers and friends who have helped me through my life.”

Brennan High School

Brennan-HS
Diandra Gatian, Valedictorian
Anthony James Naguit, Salutatorian

Diandra Gatian is Brennan High School’s first Valedictorian. She plans to attend Lubbock Christian University (LCU), majoring in physical therapy. The daughter of Donald and Denise Gatian, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including a volleyball scholarship and academic scholarship from LCU, the San Antonio Hill Lion Club scholarship, and the Baylor Presidential scholarship. While in high school, she served as vice president of the National Honor Society, captain of the varsity volleyball team, captain of the varsity softball team, and was elected and inducted into Mu Alpha Theta.

“I have loved every coach, teacher, and friend that’s been on this (high school) journey with me,” she said. “John Paul Stevens and William J. Brennan high schools will always be big parts of my life, and now I can’t wait to begin a new chapter of my life at LCU.”

Anthony James Naguit is Brennan High School’s first Salutatorian. He plans to attend Baylor University, majoring in biology. The son of Richard and Carolina Vidimos, he is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Baylor University Provost Gold, North San Antonio Hills Lions Club, and Texas Tech Top 10 Percent scholarship. While in high school, he served as Sergeant at Arms for the National Honor Society, Student Council, Spanish Honor Society, Science Honor Society, and was elected and inducted into Mu Alpha Theta.

“High School has shown me that dreams do come true and that hard works pays off,” he said. “Brennan and Stevens high schools will always be a part of memories that I will cherish forever. This roller coaster of a ride has been amazing. Thank you to everyone that I have met on this journey.”

Business Careers High School

Business-Careers-HS
Holly Judkins, Valedictorian
Nia Anderson, Salutatorian

Holly Judkins, this year’s valedictorian at Business Careers High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in biology. The daughter of Robert Judkins and Brenda Kerstine, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the NAWBO Business Plan Competition scholarship, Top 10 Percent scholarship, and Texas Student Housing Authority scholarship. While in school, she was involved with the Leadership Challenge Program and served as sophomore advisor of the Academy of Finance.

“I’d like to thank my family for encouraging and supporting me throughout high school,” she said.

Nia Anderson, this year’s salutatorian at Business Careers High School, plans to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham, majoring in biology and psychology. The daughter of Jeffrey Anderson and Danita Anderson-Richards, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the University of Alabama Presidential scholarship, Lewis T. Brown scholarship, and Alkoran Temple scholarship. While in school, she was the leadership team coordinator for the National Honor Society, Senior Class secretary, Junior Class historian, and English Honor Society historian.

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped me achieve my goals,” she said. “That includes the amazing teachers at Business Careers who have guided me through my high school career and my friends who have made these last four years truly memorable.

“Also, thanks to my many mentors who have provided guidance and words of wisdom, and most importantly, my family for always encouraging, supporting and standing by me throughout everything.”

Clark High School

Clark
Orlea Miller, Valedictorian
Erika Parsons, Salutatorian

Orlea Miller, this year’s valedictorian for Clark High School, plans to attend either Harvard or Cambridge and is still deciding on her major. The daughter of Monica and Alexander Miller, she received multiple scholarships including the Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship, Jim Davidson Memorial scholarship, PTA scholarship, and the Clark Athletic Boosters Club scholarship. While in high school, she served as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, was president of the Interact Club, was Varsity Soccer leadership council member, and was a mentor for Clark Student Ambassadors.

“I look forward to pursuing a career in communications after college,” she said. “I want to thank my family, my teachers, and administrators for all their support over the last four years.”

Erika Parsons is this year’s salutatorian for Clark High School. The daughter of Lee and Leisa Parsons, she plans to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, majoring in Industrial Design. She is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Thomas S. Monson Presidential scholarship. While in high school, she served as president of the Youth Group and secretary of the Youth Bible Study.

“I look forward to going to college and becoming an industrial designer,” she said. “I would like to express my gratitude to my parents, teachers, and friends who encouraged me and helped me to achieve my goals.”

Communications Arts High School

Comm-Arts
Stephanie Lebbano, Valedictorian
Kamree Dañiell Gonzales, Salutatorian

Stephanie Lebbano, the 2012 valedictorian for Communications Arts High School, plans to attend Schreiner University in Kerrville, majoring in chemistry. The daughter of Nazak Dadashazar, she received numerous scholarships including the Executive Women’s International scholarship, and the Schreiner University Presidential scholarship. While in school, she served as president of the National Honor Society, vice president and treasurer of her class, and treasurer of both the Science Club and Creative Expressions Club.

“I have to thank my beautiful mother for being the absolute best,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it had not been for her.”

Kamree Dañiell Gonzales is the 2012 salutatorian for Communications Arts High School. She plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in architecture. The daughter of Don and Paul Gonzales, she is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Century scholarship, Gold scholarship, and Presidential scholarship.

While attending high school, Gonzalez also volunteered at the Animal Care Services of San Antonio in a variety of areas and was placed in charge of the entire puppy kennel area when ACS was understaffed.

Health Careers High School

Health-Careers
Samantha Lin, Valedictorian
Fengwei Karoline Xu

Samantha Lin, this year’s valedictorian for Health Careers High School, plans to attend Harvard University, majoring in neurobiology. The daughter of Wei-Ming Lin and Susan Chao, she received multiple scholarships including the National Merit scholarship. While in high school, she served as founder and president of the Pre-Veterinary Society; president, vice president, and historian of the Latin Club; and historian of the Health Occupations Students of America Chapter.

“I would not be whom or where I am today without the support and guidance of my parents, teachers, counselors, and friends,” she said. “Thank you to you all.”

Fengwei Karoline Xu is this year’s salutatorian for Health Careers High School. She plans to attend Harvard University, majoring in economics. The daughter of Yan Li and Guogang Xu, she received multiple scholarships including the Best Buy scholarship, Elks scholarship, and the National Merit scholarship. While in high school, she served as president of the Latin Club, and president and vice president of the Student Council.

“I’d like to thank my parents and siblings for being supportive and encouraging,” she said.

Holmes High School

Holmes
Alexander James Almond, Valedictorian
Juan Hernández, Salutatorian

Alexander James Almond, this year’s valedictorian for Holmes High School, plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in biomedical engineering and business management. The son of Estella Salazar and Robert Almond, he received multiple scholarships including Luz G. Amedeo scholarship, Rising Roadrunner scholarship, Sul Ross Scholar scholarship, and an English Honor Society scholarship. While in school, he served as president of the English Honor Society, president of the National Honor Society, captain of the tennis team, and a member of the varsity orchestra.

Almond plans to attend UTSA and then transfer to Rice University. “I’d like to thank my parents for always being there for me and never stopping me from trying, my teachers for helping me learn the material and excel, my bosses for always understanding that school comes first, and my friends for always being there for me and making high school a great experience,” he said.

Juan Hernández is this year’s salutatorian for Holmes High School. He plans to attend Trinity University, majoring in physics. The son of Leticia Hernández and Juan Hernández, he received multiple scholarships including the Dean’s scholarship and Trinity Grant from Trinity University. While in school, he served as assistant principle first violin in the school orchestra and was a member of the varsity basketball team.

Hernández plans to attend medical school after graduating from college to study sports medicine. “I hope to become a team doctor for a professional sports team,” he said. “I would like to thank my parents and my teachers for all their support.”

Jay High School

Jay-HS
Jesus Armando Lopez III, Valedictorian
Kevin J. Ayala, Salutatorian

Jesus Armando Lopez III, this year’s valedictorian for Jay High School, plans to attend the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Ariz., majoring in graphic design. He is the son of Rose M. Chavez.

“I want to thank my ROTC instructors, teachers, friends, and family,” he said. “Through this journey, I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. Some see the cup as half full, others see it as half empty. I see it as an accomplishment.”

Kevin J. Ayala is this year’s salutatorian for Jay High School. He plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in performing arts. The son of Sarah Espinoza, he is the recipient of the Top Ten Percent scholarship. While in high school, he served as vice president of the drama club, and was the lead in the UIL Drama One-Act Play.  He has also served as a student ambassador, traveling with the group People to People twice to Europe and once to Australia and New Zealand.

“I’d like to thank my mom for being my mom, and my dad for supporting me in everything I do,” he said. “I plan to pursue a career in acting and star in a movie.”

Jay Science & Engineering Academy

JSEA
Sharjeel Syed, Valedictorian
Kate Sabey, Salutatorian

Sharjeel Syed, this year’s valedictorian for Jay Science and Engineering Academy, plans to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., majoring in business. The son of Anis and Someena Syed, he is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Dartmouth Scholars award, Emory University General Scholarship, American University Environmental Scholarship, UT Longhorn Opportunity Scholarship, Bamberger’s Endowment, SA Police Officers Commission scholarship, Texas A&M Scholars award, and Baylor University Presidential Scholarship. While in school, he served as captain of the Quiz and Science Bowl Teams, Public Relations Officer for Mu Alpha Theta, and was involved with the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, basketball, National Society of High School Scholars, Science Fair, Academic Decathlon, Model UN, and UIL Debate, Math, Science, and Computer Science.

He was also a National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar, Gold Medalist at ISWEEEP, finalist of the National Stockholm’s Junior Water Prize Competition, National Junior Humanities and Science Symposium, National Junior Academy of Science, Intel ISEF, the International Genius Olympiad, Quest Bridge, Texas State UIL Debate Championship, Texas State Academic Decathlon Winner, Discuss Awards Winner, Governor Rick Perry’s Science and Technology Invitee, President Volunteer Service gold Medal Winner, and President Obama’s Environmental Stewardship Award, among others.

“I would like to thank my parents for all their support and motivation to accomplish my goals and achieve my dreams,” he said.

Kate Sabey is this year’s Salutatorian for Jay Science and Engineering Academy. She plans to attend Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., majoring in biology. The daughter of Dr. Kent and Suellen Sabey, she is the recipient of the James Quinter scholarship. While in school, she was involved in the choir all four years, serving as student director and section leader.

Marshall High School

Marshall-HS
Melanie Zook, Valedictorian
Ethan Maxwell Dirks, Salutatorian

Melanie Zook, this year’s valedictorian from Marshall High School, plans to attend Rice University in Houston, majoring in political science and English. The daughter of Brian and Holly Zook, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the National Merit scholarship and the Rice University Trustee scholarship. While in high school, she served as Band president, newspaper editor-in-chief, Film Society co-founder/president, clarinet section leader, and vice president of the Class of 2012.

“When I’m studying for AP tests or working on projects at 2 a.m., it’s hard to remember why I ever wanted to succeed in high school,” she said. “But then I’ll get a text from a friend having the same thoughts, and all of a sudden my awful night turns into a strangely wonderful trauma bonding experience.

“When I look back 20 years from now, I won’t remember the class assignments or major projects; I’ll remember the people who stuck by me through every stressful day. Being valedictorian has little to do with my own accomplishments—it’s all thanks to Starbucks study dates with my best friend, or the teachers who forgave me for my stressed-out craziness. For that, I will always be grateful.”

Ethan Maxwell Dirks is the 2012 salutatorian for Marshall High School. He plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in advertising.  The son of Gregory and Sarah Dirks, he received multiple scholarships including the State VASE scholarship. While in high school, he served as the webmaster for the National Honor Society, GT vice president, and Spanish Honor Society historian.

O’Connor High School

OConnor
Yun Liang, Valedictorian
Jenny Qi, Salutatorian

Yun Liang, the 2012 valedictorian for O’Connor High School, plans to attend Princeton University, majoring in molecular biology. The daughter of Sitai Liang and Li Yao, she has received numerous scholarships including the Western Texas Frontier scholarship, Medina Valley UIL scholarship, Trustee Distinguished scholarship, and Exemplary President’s Achievement scholarship. While in high school, she served as captain of the Academic Decathlon team, captain of the Math and Science team, and treasurer of both the National Honor Society and Latin Club.

“I would like to thank my parents, for without their support and inspiration, I would never have had such great achievements,” she said. “Thank you for giving me the push that I needed to get through the hurdles. Also, thank you to my teachers, counselor, and coaches for their dedication and teaching truly prepared me well for college and beyond.”

Jenny Qi is this year’s salutatorian for O’Connor High School. She plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in biology. The daughter of Wenbo Qi and Qun Li, she received numerous scholarships including the Exemplary President’s Achievement scholarship, Coker scholarship, and Midland scholarship. While in high school, she served as captain of the Math and Science team, JETS team, and Science Bowl teams. She was also the president of Mu Alpha Theta, treasurer of the Fishing Club, Business Professionals of America, and Orchestra, and a member of the Academic Decathlon.

“Thanks to Grace Wong and my parents for never giving up on me,” she said.

Stevens High School

Stevens-HS
Casey Edwards, Valedictorian
Alexandra Flores, Salutatorian

Casey Edwards, this year’s valedictorian for Stevens High School, plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in journalism. The son of Terry and Carey Edwards, she is the recipient of the Angelo Drosses Memorial. While at school, Casey served as the captain of his basketball team for both his junior and senior years. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and the UIL Writing Team.

“I’d like to thank my dad for always supporting me, and my mom for always pushing me to be great,” he said. “And, a special thanks to Mr. Pena, who made me realize all of this was possible.”

Alexandra Flores is the Stevens High School salutatorian. She plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in music marketing. The daughter of Francisco Flores and Patricia Flores, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the UTSA Selective scholarship and the Roadrunner scholarship. While in high school, she served as president of the school choir, vice president of Texas Future Music Educators, and a member of the National Honor Society.

Taft High School

Taft-HS
Ariel Wong, Valedictorian
Salvador Echeveste, Jr., Salutatorian

Ariel Wong, this year’s valedictorian for Taft High School, plans to attend the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, majoring in food science. The daughter of Warren and Theresa Wong, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the George Beadle scholarship, honors Textbook scholarship, Coyote Commitment Veritas scholarship, USD Valedictorian scholarship, and Rocky Mountain Scholars award. While in high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Club, UIL Math and Science Competition.

“I would like to thank Mr. Halle, Mr. Ellis, and Mr. Boyet for their help and numerous recommendations,” she said.

Salvador Echeveste, Jr. is this year’s salutatorian at Taft High School.  He plans to attend Texas A&M in College Station, majoring in chemical engineering. The son of Salvador Echeveste and Rosa Echeveste, he is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Top Ten Percent State scholarship, Academic Achievement scholarship, Quest Bridge scholarship program finalist, and Regents scholarship. While in school, he served as the tuba section leader for the Taft Raider Band, president and activities coordinator of the Spanish National Honor Society, and member of the National Honor Society.

“I would like to thank my mother and father for their constant support,” he said. “I’d also like to thank all my friends and teachers who stood beside me through this first adventure.”

Warren High School

Warren-HS
Hunter Balzen, Valedictorian
Ariel Penny, Salutatorian

Hunter Balzen, this year’s valedictorian for Warren High School, plans to attend Texas A&M University in Kingsville, majoring in environmental engineering. The son of Brett and Melissa Balzen, he is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship, Frank Price Cunningham scholarship, Security Service Federal Credit Union scholarship, Lyle Engineering Fellows scholarship, Academic Honors scholarship, and Presidential scholarship. While at high school, he served as president of the National Honor Society, captain of the Cross Country Team, and Captain of the Varsity Boys Soccer Team.

Ariel Penny, the 2012 salutatorian for Warren High School, plans to attend Rice University in Houston, majoring in economics. The daughter of Kevin and Lisa Penny, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Jack C. Jordan scholarship, Rice University Trustee Distinguished scholarship, New American scholarship, and Academic Excellence scholarship. While in high school, she served as vice president of the National Honor Society, Academic Decathlon Honors, Kiva captain, and varsity tennis.

“A big thank you must go to my incredible teachers, who taught me more than just academics; and to my family and friends, who gave me the much appreciated support along the way,” she said.