Super Scholars 2013
Valedictorians and Salutatorians lead the way for the Class of 2013
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.
Tyler Tschirhart, Valedictorian
Brandon Cortez, Salutatorian
Tyler Tschirhart, this year’s valedictorian for Brandeis High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in biochemistry. The son of Mark and Cindy Tschirhart, he received numerous scholarships including the Texas Scholar Award, St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital scholarship, and the NISD Health and Wellness scholarship. While at school, he served as president of the band, captain of the Science Bowl team, vice president of the Class of 2013, brass commander, and low brass section leader.
“I would like to thank my wonderful family and friends for being so supportive of me all these years,” he said. “I hope to attend college and earn a degree in biochemistry, and then go on to medical school to become a neurosurgeon.”
Brandon Cortez is this year’s salutatorian for Brandeis High School. He plans to major in engineering at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. The son of Martin and Mercedes Cortez, he is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Stanford University scholarship, USAA Employee Dependent scholarship, and UT Engineering Honors scholarship.
While at school, he served as drum major of the marching band, low brass section leader, and first chair jazz trombonist for four years.
Brandon Fathy, Valedictorian
Manuel Gomez, Salutatorian
Brandon Fathy, this year’s valedictorian for Brennan High School, plans to attend the University of Leicester in Leicester, England majoring in archaeology. He is the son of Sherif Fathy and Carol Fathy. While in school, he served as captain of the Academic Decathlon, president of the Student Council, and historian of his sophomore class.
Manuel Gomez, this year’s salutatorian for Brennan High School, plans to attend The University of Texas in Austin majoring in finance. He is the son of Cathy Gonzales and Leo Gomez. While in school, he participated in UIL math competitions, advancing to regionals his sophomore, junior, and senior years.
“I am extremely thankful for what my mom and dad have done for me over the years,” he said. “They are the two people that I know that I can always depend on.”
Ruby Janethe Vargas, Valedictorian
Nicole G. Muzquiz, Salutatorian
Ruby Janethe Vargas, valedictorian for Business Careers High School, plans to major in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The daughter of Jorge Vargas and Angelina Vargas, she received numerous scholarships including the St. Mary’s PREP scholarship. While attending high school, she served as treasurer of the Student Council.
“My parents have taught me that a good education is vital to be successful in life, and I have seen the hardships that they have gone through to give me the best education they could,” she said. “I feel like taking advantage of the opportunities available in high school is the best way that I can thank them for all they have sacrificed for me.”
“I’ve been lucky to have great teachers, who have also helped motivate me and guide me through high school. I sincerely believe without these people in my life, I would not have gotten to the point that I am today,” she added.
Nicole G. Muzquiz, this year’s salutatorian for Business Careers High School, plans to major in Computer Software Engineering from The University of Texas in Austin. The daughter of Joaquin Muzquiz and Martha Muzquiz, she received multiple scholarships including the Top Ten Percent scholarship from UT. While in school, she served as vice president of the National Honor Society, and second violin section leader in the Varsity Orchestra.
“My experience as a Business Careers student is one filled with tears, laughter, and hard work,” she said. “Through my four years here, I’ve had teachers who have made learning an enjoyable experience. Thanks to the many teachers who went out of their way to add something more than a textbook or worksheet to our daily assignments, learning was never a dull experience for me.”
“But it is my family who has supported me long before I arrived here as a freshman, and they put in the extra blood, sweat, and tears necessary to attend every award ceremony and orchestra concert at a school quite far from home. In addition, they are the ones that ultimately convinced me to stay here as a Husky, and for that I’m truly grateful,” she added.
Harry MacTough, Valedictorian
Gabriel Reichman, Salutatorian
Harry MacTough, this year’s valedictorian from Clark High School, plans to major in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University. The son of Robert and Kelly MacTough, he is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the USAA Employee Dependent scholarship, Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship, and Texas A&M University President’s scholarship. While in school, he served as the senior patrol leader for Boy Scout Troop 285, earned his Eagle Scout, and was senior representative for the Interact Club.
“I really have enjoyed all the challenges of school and cross country while at Clark,” he said. “My parents have been instrumental in my success in high schools, and I have been blessed to have had outstanding teachers at Clark, and leaders and mentors at University United Methodist Church and Boy Scout Troop 285.”
Gebriel Reichman, the salutatorian for Clark High School, plans to major in mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin. The son of Itzhau and Elizabeth Reichman, he is the recipient of numerous scholarships including an honors scholarship from the UT College of Natural Sciences. While in school, he served as president of the Orchestra Council, president of the German National Honor Society, and first chair cellist in the orchestra.
“The four years that I’ve spent at Clark have been amazing,” he said. “I hope the years to come will bring more great experiences and opportunities.”
Caitlin Quinn, Valedictorian
Aleksandar Tinkovski, Salutatorian
Caitlin Quinn, this year’s valedictorian at Communications Arts High School, plans to major in International Relations at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. The daughter of Jim and Jackie Quinn, she received numerous scholarships including the National Merit scholarship, Northside Counseling Association scholarship, Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship, Daughters of the American Revolution scholarship, and the Spouses’ Club of Fort Sam Houston area scholarship. While in school, she served as senior class president, captain of the varsity soccer team, band librarian, and flute section music leader.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me; family, friends, teachers, counselors, coaches, and band directors,” she said. “Your guidance and encouragement have made my accomplishments possible.”
Aleksandar Tinkovski, the salutatorian at Communications Arts High School, plans to major in International Relations at The University of Texas at Austin. The son of Nikolay Tinkovski and Veselka Tinkovska, he is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the University of Texas at Austin President’s Achievement scholarship, Trinity University Murchison scholarship, Minnie Stevens Piper scholarship, and the Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship. While in school, he served as class secretary, class vice president, and vice president and secretary of Bulgarians in Texas, Inc. He was also a member of the varsity tennis team, National Honor Society, and Spanish National Honor Society.
“I want to thank my first grade teacher, Mrs. Emerson, who helped me form my first sentences in English; my parents, who have given me the opportunity of an American education, my sister, who is my biggest supporter; my teachers, who have inspired me and prepared me for my future; my friends and teammates, who have given me so many wonderful memories to look back on,” he said. “I thank you all for believing in me and for all you have done to shape me into the individual who I am today.”
Elizabeth Godfrey, Valedictorian
Ariella Noorily, Salutatorian
Elizabeth Godfrey, this year’s valedictorian at Health Careers High School, plans to major in bioengineering at Rice University in Houston. The daughter of Mark Godfrey and Linda Godfrey, she is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Trustee Distinguished scholarship, Century scholarship, United SAFCU scholarship, Northside Counseling Association scholarship, 3M National Merit scholarship, and AA Travel Club scholarship.
While in school, she served as co-president of the Spanish Honor Society, founder and team captain of the Health Careers Science Bowl team, first chair violinist and section leader, and was a member of the Health Careers orchestra.
“I’d like to thank my middle school math teacher, Mr. Howard Villarreal, and UIL and MathCounts for introducing me to the world of academic competition and teaching me teamwork and the fun of problem-solving,” she said. “I’d also like to thank Mr. Daniel Bump, my school’s Science Fair coordinator, and Mrs. Karen Forsberg, our Junior Academy of Science coordinator, for helping me begin my science career even as a high school student. Thanks also to the Health Careers teachers for making it such a wonderful place to learn; and finally, thanks to my mom and dad for teaching me to learn and to share that learning with others.”
Ariella Noorily, this year’s salutatorian at Health Careers High School, plans to attend The University of Texas in Austin pursuing a degree in the Plan II Honors program. The daughter of Allen and Susan Noorily, she is the recipient of four scholarships totaling $228,000. While in school, she served as chapter vice president, state vice president and vice president of community service of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, HOSA chapter historian, and Latin Club category leader.
“I would like to thank my parents for their undying support and encouragement,” she said. “It is because of them that I was able to find success in national piano, Latin, and History Fair competitions, all while maintaining my grades at school. They showed me how to be a leader and volunteer in my community, which I hope to continue in college. But most importantly, they taught me the value of family, faith, and happiness over all else in life.”
Shawn Lopez, Valedictorian
Esmeralda Araiza, Salutatorian
Shawn Lopez, this year’s valedictorian at Holmes High School, plans to major in history at The University of Texas at Austin. The son of Olivia Lopez and Samuel Lopez, he is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Top Ten Percent scholarship. While in school, he served as president of the French Club and the French National Honor Society, and part of the National Honor Society leadership team.
“I could not have done it alone and wouldn’t even be in my position without the love of my family and friends, the help of my teachers, and support from my bosses at work,” he said.
Esmeralda Araiza, the salutatorian at Holmes High School, plans to major in corporate communications at The University of Texas at Austin. The daughter of Pete and Sylvia Araiza, she received numerous scholarships including the presidential scholarship, Best Buy scholarship, and Texas PTA scholarship. While in school, she served as class president, co-founder and president of Campus Life, vice president of the National Honor Society, president of Oliver’s Book Club, and creative director of One Day Without Shoes.
“High school has taught me some of life’s most important lessons,” she said. “Every single thing that I’ve done has taught me who I am and given me a glimpse of the person I will become.”
“I would like to thank my parents, who have supported me from the very beginning, and the first teacher I ever had who instilled in me a saying that will stay with me throughout the rest of my life: ‘Start Strong, Stay Strong, Finish Strong.’”
Cristina Fajardo, Valedictorian
Elias Mora, Salutatorian
Cristina Fajardo is this year’s valedictorian for Jay High School. She plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio majoring in biology. She is the daughter of Juana Fajardo and Pablo Fajardo.
Elias Mora, this year’s salutatorian for Jay High School, plans to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder majoring in Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering. He is the son of Veronica Gamez.
“I plan to finish an aircraft technician certification before moving on to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering,” he said.
Kira Holland, Valedictorian
Joseph Langas, Salutatorian
Kira Holland, this year’s valedictorian for Jay Science and Engineering Academy, plans to attend The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada to major in chemical and biological engineering. The daughter of Mark and Mona Holland, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships include the Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship and the scholarship for Military Children Scholars. While in school, she was section leader and public relations officer of the varsity orchestra, president of Mu Alpha Theta, and induction ceremony chair for the National Honor Society.
She was also involved with the Varsity Tennis team, Varsity Orchestra, and Science and Social Studies Academic UIL teams. She was an AP Scholar, received two Texas Music Scholar Awards, and the Outstanding Community Outreach Leader Award, made the All-Region Orchestra six years consecutively, and was a History Fair regional qualifier.
“I would like to thank my amazing parents for always being there with love and support throughout the last 18 years,” she said. “I would also like to thank my spectacular friends for their dedication in keeping me sane, and my chemistry, world history, and environmental science teachers for being so inspirational in their respective subjects.”
Joseph Langas is this year’s salutatorian for Jay Science and Engineering Academy. He plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in computer science. The son of Rachel and Greg Langas, he is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the UTCS Turing Scholars.
While in school, he served as captain of the UIL Computer Science team, captain of the Quiz Bowl, student director of the choir, and is an Eagle Scout.
“Throughout high school, my family and friends have always been there for me,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without you, and I’ll always be thankful for your support.”
Sarah Santos, Valedictorian
Maggie Zhang, Salutatorian
Sarah Santos, this year’s valedictorian at Marshall High School, plans to major in Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The daughter of Roger and Janice Santos, she is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the UTSA Top Scholars scholarship. While in school, she served as editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, “The Rampage,” and was a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and UIL Journalism and English.
“It’s almost overwhelming,” she said. “I worked so hard to make it happen, but never expected my efforts to come to fruition. Although the title is attached to my name, it’s really a culmination of all the encouragement that I’ve received from friends and family.”
Maggie Zhang is this year’s salutatorian at Marshall High School. She plans to major in biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The daughter of Xiuye Ma and Binxian Zhang, she received multiple scholarships including the San Antonio Livestock Exposition scholarship, and the Presidential Honors scholarship. While in school, she served as co-president of HOSA, treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta and the National Honor Society, and a member of the UIL Science team and varsity orchestra.
“I would like to thank my family for always being there and giving me useful, sometimes illogical, advice,” she said.
Annie Freeman, Valedictorian
Garrett Scott, Salutatorian
Annie Freeman, this year’s valedictorian at O’Connor High School, plans to attend Texas A&M in College Station majoring in biology. The daughter of Julie Freeman and Kelley Freeman, she is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship, O’Connor Booster Club scholarship, President’s Endowed scholarship, Texas A&M Brown scholar, Opportunity Award scholarship, and National Merit scholarship.
While in school, she served as lieutenant and captain of the O’Connor Dance Team.
“I want to thank all of my teachers and especially my parents for supporting me so much for these past four years,” she said. “As one chapter of my life closes and the next begins, I feel like I have a strong sense of who I am and where I came from to carry me through life.”
Garrett Scott, this year’s salutatorian at O’Connor High School, plans to major in Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. The son of David and Mandy Scott, he received numerous scholarships including the UT Austin Engineering Honors scholarship, Elks National Foundation Legacy award, Lockheed Martin STEM scholarship, Scholarships for Military Children Scholar, and the Brice and Teresa Mocaygemba Engineering scholarship. While in school, he served as drumline captain and snare section leader for the O’Connor Panther Band, lead drum set player in the top jazz ensemble, and first chair percussionist in the top concert band. He also participated on the O’Connor Bowling Team for four years.
“I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to my teachers, band directors, coaches, and counselors for guiding and encouraging me through my tenure at O’Connor High School,” he said. “You have all helped me prepare for the challenges I will face in college and beyond, as well as given me the tools to be successful regardless of my endeavors. I cannot thank my wonderful parents, family and friends enough for supporting me and pushing me to reach my goals.”
Vivianna Janelle Roldan, Salutatorian
Vivianna Janelle Roldan, this year’s Salutatorian for Stevens High School, is planning on attending Northwest Vista College to receive a certification in Pharmacy Technology. The daughter of Randall and Francis Roldan, she is the recipient of the General Foundation USAA scholarship.
While in school, she served as vice president of the school’s Texas Future Music Educators Association was in the San Antonio Region 11 All-Region choir for all four years of high school, and a member of the Stevens Choir and Stevens Varsity Mixed Choir. She is also a lifetime member of the National Society of High School Scholars, the Stevens High School National Honor Society, and placed first in the 2013 May Day Poetry Contest receiving honorable mention in the District-level competition.
"After I graduate, I plan to enter into full-time ministry work of Jehovah's Witnesses," she said. "I'm pursuing my certification in Pharmacy Technology so that in the future I will be able to have a parttime job that will allow me to support my ministry monetarily."
"I have been blessed with loving and supportive parents, as well as family and friends who have helped me come this far. I thank my parents for raising me, my teachers (Melissa Massie and Robert Rubio) for helping me cultivate my ability and tremendous love for music, and all my spiritual brothers and sisters for keeping me sane, happy, and for supporting me in my spiritual growth."
Ilianna Sierra Walker, Valedictorian
Ilse Maria Smith., Salutatorian
Ilianna Sierra Walker, this year’s valedictorian at Taft High School, plans to major in English at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. The daughter of Michael and Maria Walker, she received scholarships from Security Service Federal Credit Union, Puerto Rican Heritage Society, San Antonio Police Officers Association, and the Executive Women International (USAA), among others. While in school, she served as secretary of the National Honor Society, vice president of the German National Honors Society, assistant media editor of the Literary Magazine, AFJROTC Chief-of-Staff, and AFJROTC Flight Commander.
“High School has been more than just a school,” she said. “It has been a place where I’ve grown and learned about myself. I want to thank my parents, my teachers, counselor, administrators, and friends who have supported and encouraged me along the way.”
Ilse Maria Smith, this year’s salutatorian at Taft High School, plans to major in Maritime Systems Engineering. The daughter of Rolf and Heidi Smith, she is the recipient of the Ford Blue Oval scholarship, Freshman TAMUG Academic scholarship, Merit scholarship from the Florida Institute of Technology, Top Ten Percent State scholarship, among others. While in school, she served as president of the National Honor Society, president of SkillsUSA team, assistant student advisor, and student advisor.
“I want to thank all the many faculty and staff that helped me along the way,” she said. “I know what comes next won’t be easy, but I feel more prepared because of them.”
Aaron Chan, Valedictorian
Megan Rheanna Ball, Salutatorian
Aaron Chan, this year’s valedictorian at Warren High School, plans to attend the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in biology. The son of Kwai and Ing Chan, he has received numerous scholarships including the Martin Goland scholarship and academic Excellence scholarship. During high school, he participated on the Academic Decathlon team and at the World Scholarship Cup (Tournament of Champions) at Yale University, the Texas Quiz Bowl, and the Bulldog Calculus Showdown.
Megan Rheanna Ball, this year’s salutatorian at Warren High School, plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio majoring in communications. The daughter of Steve and Lori Lisherness, she is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the UTSA Presidential Honors scholarship. While at Warren, she was a member of the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and was on the volleyball, track, and soccer teams.
“I am extremely proud of this accomplishment because I have worked very hard for the past four years to get to this point,” she said. “Although I have had to make many sacrifices to keep my grades up, I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out on anything.”
“I’d like to thank God, my family, and the many teachers who have helped me to achieve this outstanding accomplishment.”