Valedictorians and Salutatorians lead the Class of 2019

June 3, 2019

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

DVDs and Blu-rays of Northside’s graduation ceremonies are available for purchase online. They are professionally-produced and contain the complete graduation ceremony. DVDs and Blu-rays cost $25 plus a processing fee per transaction for any online orders.

In addition, each graduation ceremony will be streamed live at nisd.net. The live-stream is available on mobile devices. The full schedule of ceremonies can be found on the Graduation website.

Brandeis High School

Matthew Su, Valedictorian

Jingsi Zhou, Salutatorian

Matthew Su, the valedictorian for Brandeis High School, will attend Harvard University and major in chemistry. He plans to pursue a career in renewable energy.  

Su earned several scholarships including a National Merit Scholarship, Brandeis Broncos Athletic Booster Club Scholarship, Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) Scholarship, and Helotes Area Chamber of Commerce Scholarship.

The son of Daniel and Susie Su also attended Beard Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School. During his time at Brandeis, he served as Team Captain for the four-time national qualifying Varsity Quiz Bowl team, Team Captain of the national-qualifying Varsity Science Bowl Team, Team Captain and state qualifier for Brandeis Varsity Aquatics, and 2016-2017 Class President.

“Throughout my 13 years at Northside, I’ve been able to discover my interests and apply myself beyond the classroom,” said Su. “From the spelling bee at Beard ES and the Science Bowl and MATHCOUNTS teams at Hector Garcia MS, to the Aquatics and Quiz Bowl teams at Brandeis, I’ve received an amazing system of support from dedicated teachers, administrators, and counselors. Through these extracurricular activities, I’ve been able to develop leadership skills and my own love for learning and self-discovery, both of which will aid me throughout my college and career experience.”

Su said his most influential teacher was his chemistry teacher, LeAnne Gisler.

“She taught me in Pre-AP Chemistry and AP Chemistry during my freshman and sophomore years, but she’s also been guiding me since my eighth grade year as the coach of Brandeis Science Bowl and my mentor for the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad. Mrs. Gisler has helped me discover my calling not only in chemistry as a future career, but also in who I am as a person. She has played an integral role in my high school journey, and I aspire to be like her and one day inspire others just as she has inspired me.”

Jingsi Zhou, the salutatorian for Brandeis High School, plans to major in biomedical engineering at The University of Texas Austin to prepare for a career as an oncologist.

The daughter of Fuchun Zhou and Qiuhua Li also attended Carnahan and May elementary schools and Stinson Middle School.

Zhao cites her physics teacher Thomas Wilson as her most influential teacher in Northside. “Mr. Wilson is a legend at Brandeis because of the passion he puts into the subject of physics and all of the life lessons he shares. He is one of a kind.”

At Brandeis, she served as orchestra historian, captain of the Academic Decathlon team, and as a member of Student Council. She also participated in the Summer Research Scholars program at The University of Texas Health Science Center.

“I am especially thankful for Elisa McCracken (now Academic Dean at Brandeis) and Sandeep Dickerson who helped facilitate the partnership with NISD and UT Health and my mentorship with Dr. Myron Ignatius,” Zhou said. “Dr. Ignatius taught me so much and helped encourage and develop my passion for cancer research. I hope to make Dr. Ignatius and everyone at Brandeis proud.”

Brennan High School

Alexandra J. Garcia, Valedictorian

Alejandra Wagnon, Salutatorian

Alexandra J. Garcia is the 2019 valedictorian at Brennan High School. She attended Galm Elementary School and Luna Middle School. She plans to major in engineering at Texas A&M University in preparation for a career in computer engineering. The daughter of Michele and Peter Garcia earned a National Hispanic Scholar College Board Recognition Award and a President’s Endowed Scholarship, College of Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship, Aggieland Bound Scholarship, and Opportunity Award Scholarship.

Garcia served as a Section Leader for the Brennan Marching Band.

“Northside ISD has taught me how to think, how to be a leader, and how to manage my time so that I can fill every minute with learning and fun,” Garcia said. “The AP courses taught me how to study, challenge myself, and prioritize. Track and band taught me how to be part of a team, and how to lead one. The experience of school taught me how to push myself outside of my comfort zone and grow as a person. These are traits I will gladly take to college and beyond.”

Her most influential teacher was her Gifted and Talented teacher at Luna MS, Rick Lane (now Academic Dean at Stinson MS).

“Mr. Lane taught me what it meant to think,” Garcia said. “He was the first teacher to ever challenge me academically and he left assignments open-ended so that I had to use critical reasoning skills and creativity to complete them. He was the best teacher I ever had.”

Alejandra Wagnon is the 2019 salutatorian at Brennan High School. She attended Ott Elementary School and Luna Middle School. The daughter of Michael and Diana Wagnon plans to study English and Dramatic Arts at Rice University in hopes of becoming an editor or comedic writer.

She received a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, Vexler Merit Scholarship, and Tisch Scholarship.

At Brennan, she was treasurer of Theatre Troupe 7693 and President of the PRIDE Club.

“High school gave me the opportunity to learn who I truly am and has given me a foundation to continue to learn about myself. I would like to thank my parents, my close friends, every English teacher I had, and all the people who believed in me along the way.”

Her most influential teacher in Northside was her senior English teacher at Brennan, Paul Jones.

“Mr. Jones was so passionate about everything he taught and he gave me tools not only to evaluate pieces of great literature but tools to pick apart and analyze my own character and the grander happenings of life around me.”

Business Careers High School

Zachary Claxton, Valedictorian

Alejandro Valdivia, Salutatorian

Zachary Claxton, the valedictorian at Business Careers High School, plans to major in computer science at The University of Texas at Austin and pursue a career as a video game developer.

“My computer programming courses and the independent study mentorship course best prepared me for my future in video game development by allowing me to learn and set foot within the video game industry,” Claxton said.

The son of Billy and Lisa Claxton also attended Langley Elementary School and Bernal and Briscoe middle schools.

“I would like to thank my programming teacher, Patricia Fair, for helping me to develop my computer programming skills,” Claxton said. “I would like to also thank my AP US History teacher, Peter Stordahl. In his class I pushed myself far beyond what I thought was possible for my study habits, bringing me to a new level of work ethic and productivity. Every teacher at Business Careers High School has helped me reach where I am today, which I am grateful for.”

Alejandro Valdivia, the salutatorian at Business Careers High School, plans to attend St. Mary’s University where he will study Business Management and Entrepreneurship and minor in Criminology.

He is the son of Luis Valdivia and Maria Sanchez and earned a Business Careers HS Scholarship, St. Mary’s University Presidential Scholarship, and Dean’s Award.

“NISD has prepared me for college and careers by giving me and other students the opportunity to visit various businesses in order to give us a better understanding of how the business world works as well as visit a few colleges for more information,” Valdivia said. “As a first generation college student, I was not as aware on what to expect in college life and life generally after high school. Specifically, Business Careers has brought many guest speakers with a variety of information about the real world.”

Valdivia was a leader on the varsity football team and co-captain of the track and field team.

He said his most influential teacher is Business Department teacher Marisa Gutierrez.

“Mrs. Gutierrez has always supported me in my academic studies and somehow always knows what to say,” Valdivia said. “The conversations I have had with her have really pushed me to continue being the ‘elegant young man’ I am. I truly believe the person proudest of me at Business Careers HS is Mrs. Gutierrez and I greatly appreciate her for that.” 

Clark High School

Domenic Ferreris, Valedictorian

Timothy Reynolds, Salutatorian

Domenic Ferreris is this year’s valedictorian at Clark High School. He plans to study physics and engineering at Princeton University. The son of Joe and Vicki Ferreris also attended Leon Springs Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School.

He earned a Presidential Gold Scholarship from Baylor University and Trustee Distinguished Scholarship from Rice University. At Clark, he served as Certamen Team Captain, Latin Club Consol, Latin Club Aedile, and Latin Grammar Contest Captain.

Ferreris said Latin teacher William Lee has been his most influential teacher.

“Mr. Lee has been a teacher, friend, mentor and a coach for the last 4 years,” Ferreris said. “His passion motivated me to be my best self and encouraged me to work as hard as I have to achieve my goals.”

“Northside ISD has provided an amazing experience full of hard working people and teachers who have pushed me to succeed,” Ferreris continued. “I am incredibly grateful for the amazing academic environment NISD has created.”

Timothy Reynolds is this year’s salutatorian at Clark High School and plans to major in electrical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He aspires to become an electrical engineer.

He is the son of Jerry and Sandra Reynolds.

At Clark, Reynolds served as consul of the Latin Club and vice president of the Science National Honor Society. He was the 2018 and 2019 State Latin Student of the Year and 2018 and 2019 Area B Latin Student of the Year.

His most influential teacher in Northside was his physics teacher Fidel Moreno.

“Mr. Moreno taught me everything I know about physics in a way that made me love it rather than hate it,” Reynolds said. “By both challenging and entertaining me, he set me on the path to my future career.”

Communications Arts High School

Jasmine Manansala, Valedictorian

Julissa Vazquez, Salutatorian

Jasmine Manansala is the 2019 valedictorian of Communications Arts High School. She plans to attend Rice University and major in Computer Science and Astrophysics. Future career possibilities for Manansala include software engineer or planetary researcher.  

The daughter of Joseph and Grace Manansala, also attended Ott Elementary School and Luna Middle School. She earned a Rice University Investment Grant, an Alamo Ranch 151 Business Association Scholarship, and was recognized in the George and Stella Knight Essay contest by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Among her leadership positions, Manansala served as Spanish National Honor Society President and Vice President, and Science Bowl Team Captain.

She chose her English Language Arts teacher Julie Davern, who she had sophomore and senior year, as her most influential Northside teacher.  

“With Mrs. Davern, I discovered a newfound love for literature (which helps me when I watch Jeopardy) and analysis (which helps me realize the deeper meaning behind things that not many people might notice),” said Manansala. I never imagined feeling so accomplished in a subject that I initially thought was so frustrating with its subjectivity. Now I better understand the art behind literature, a sense of style that surpasses just words.”

Julissa Vazquez is the 2019 salutatorian of Communications Arts High School.

She is the daughter of Aris and Randy Seidenberger and Felipe and Dione Vazquez. Vazquez also attended Forester Elementary School and Vale Middle School. Among her leadership positions in high school, she served as class Vice President.

She said her most influential teacher was her seventh grade math teacher Antoinette Cook.

“She always made me feel valued and encouraged,” Vazquez said. “She was also very nurturing, easygoing, and helpful, making her easy to approach and talk to. I had her eighth period so even if I had a rough day I knew that I would end on a good note. I had already been fond of math prior to being in her class, but the experience I had there really solidified my love for the subject. She was a teacher that definitely made you want to come to school and learn something new.”

Construction Careers Academy

Samantha Mendez, Valedictorian

Milen Patel, Salutatorian

Samantha Mendez is the 2019 valedictorian for Construction Careers Academy (CCA). She plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin and major in environmental science.

The daughter of Juan and Rose Mendez also attended Langley Elementary School and Bernal and Briscoe middle schools. At CCA, she was Mu Alpha Theta treasurer.

Her most influential Northside teacher was Warren High School English Language Arts teacher Mohammed Shimal.

“Mr. Shimal gave me a beacon for hope in my ability to express my emotions through writing,” Mendez said. “He provided a safe place during a time when I was so upset at my circumstance I could not look for a way out on my own through my watered eyes. Without his push of how influential and important education is, I might have never dug my way out of the hole I found myself trapped within.”

Milen Patel is the 2019 salutatorian for Construction Careers Academy (CCA). He plans to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio and major in civil/mechanical engineering to prepare for a career as an engineer.

The son of Sanjay and Vandana Patel also attended Cable Elementary School and Jordan Middle School.

He received several scholarships including a University of Texas at San Antonio Distinguished Presidential Scholarship, Valero Bowl Scholarship, and Texas Society of Professional Engineers/University of Texas at San Antonio Engineering Design Junk Drawer Competition Scholarship.

Patel was a member of the CCA Principal’s Cabinet, Student Council, National Honor Society, and Warren High School varsity basketball team.

“While I have had many influential teachers and coaches throughout my time at Northside, my most influential teacher has been Laura Butterfield, my Gifted and Talented teacher at Cable Elementary School,” Patel said. “She always taught me and her students to think outside the box and to push ourselves, which helped me realize my passion to be creative and pursue a career within the engineering field.”

Harlan High School

Daniel Guzik, Valedictorian

Nicholas McCann, Salutatorian

Daniel Guzik is the first valedictorian of Harlan High School. He plans to major in computer science as part of the Honors program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His future career goal is to become an entrepreneur.

He is the son of Scott and Laura Guzik and also attended Lewis Elementary School and Luna Middle School.

Guzik has earned several scholarships including a Distinguished Presidential Scholarship from UTSA, Jose Navarro Scholarship, Rosie L. Pullin Scholarship, and Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship.

As part of Harlan’s first graduating class, Guzik served as founder and president of the Environmental Club, historian for the Spanish Honor Society, UIL Science captain, and a varsity football captain.

“I have had many outstanding teachers throughout my years in NISD; however, if I had to pinpoint one teacher that was the most influential to me it would be my GT teacher throughout elementary school, Ms. Robertson,” Guzik said. “The lessons and skills I learned in that class helped me tremendously throughout school and life so far. She was an amazing teacher, and I am lucky to have had her by my side helping me throughout my elementary school career and teaching me the fundamental skills for academics and creativity. Without her constant support and reassurance during the most pertinent time of my mental growth, I would probably not have the motivation and edge necessary that helped me obtain my academic accomplishment of Valedictorian.”

Nicholas McCann is the first salutatorian of Harlan High School. He plans to major in biology (with a concentration in microbiology) at the University of Tennessee. His future career goal is to become an infectious disease specialist.

McCann is the son of Donald and Shannan McCann and also attended Raba and Langley elementary schools and Bernal and Briscoe Middle Schools.

His scholarships include the Vulcan Scholar Athlete of the Year Scholarship, Athletic Scholarship for Diving at the University of Tennessee, a Volunteer Scholarship, and Distinguished Scholar Awards.

At Harlan, McCann was a member of National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and was a class representative for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). He was team captain for Alamo Area Aquatics Diving and a group leader in his church youth group. He won four district diving titles, a UIL state silver medal, and NISCA All-American Honors. In addition, he is leaving high school as a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant.

He cited Harlan teachers Kimberly McDougall and Danielle Dylinski as his most influential teachers.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have Mrs. McDougall for two years, and I must say that she has changed the way that I view healthcare as a whole in a positive light,” McCann said. “I’ve always known that I wanted to go into the medical field, but I didn’t exactly know why. As cliche as this sounds, at the end of the day, this teacher made me realize that I wanted to be in healthcare simply to help people. After discovering my passion for infectious disease, I’ve determined that I want to work for the CDC as an infectious disease specialist and work in third world countries in need of medical help.”

“Danielle Dylinski is someone that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. What struck me most about her was the passion and drive for not only teaching biology, but for developing a personal relationship with her students that they will take with them and value forever. If this speaks anything of her character, she used her own vacation days and money to stay at a hotel to watch me compete at the UIL State Championship for Diving this year.”

Health Careers High School

Brian Kang, Valedictorian

Nikita Pathapati, Salutatorian

Brian Kang is the 2019 valedictorian of Health Careers High School. He plans to major in biomedical engineering at Duke University and study to become an orthopedic surgeon.

The son of Seok Kang and Yunyoung Kang attended Braun Station Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.

He earned several scholarships including a National Merit Finalist Scholarship and Presidential Scholarship from the University of Southern California.

At Health Careers, he served as Class Treasurer, Orchestra Concertmaster, and Latin Club President, Treasurer, and Academic Coordinator.

“I am forever in debt to Health Careers and its prominent role in pushing my interest in the medical field farther than I would have believed possible,” Kang said. “From the teachers to my fellow students, I have received the most enriching, memorable, and enjoyable high school experience possible.”

His most influential teacher in Northside was his computer science teacher Milton Guerra.

“Mr. Guerra not only taught me in the classroom but he helped me realize my own strengths and weaknesses and skills that I will keep and use for the rest of my life,” Kang said.

Nikita Pathapati is the 2019 salutatorian of Health Careers High School and will attend the University of Texas at Austin. She plans to major in finance and marketing in the Business Honors program to prepare for a career in business.

She is the daughter of Raja Pathapati and Sailaja Manne and earned a Provost Scholarship to Southern Methodist University.

At Health Careers, she served as secretary and treasurer for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), founder of Model United Nations Club, and TIPS 3rd Student Council Member and newsletter author and editor. She also served as San Antonio Telugu Singers Association President.

“Nancy Ramos taught me the importance of careful attention to detail and motivated me to try my hardest,” Pathapati said. “I’d like to thank all of my teachers for helping enhance my understanding of various subjects and inspiring me to keep improving my work ethic. I’d like to especially thank my counselor, Rosemary Hernandez, for being a valuable source of guidance throughout my high school years. Health Careers provided me with a great environment to learn and grow in, and I will use the lessons I have learned here during college and beyond.”

Holmes High School

Micah Francis, Valedictorian

Luis Lopez, Salutatorian

Micah Francis is this year’s valedictorian from Holmes High School and plans to major in medical laboratory science at the University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career as an anesthesiologist.

The daughter of Amy Edwards and Earnest Francis earned a Loyola Scholarship, Claver Award, Texas Grant, and Texas Public Grant.

At Holmes, she was President of the Academic Decathlon team and UIL Spelling team and served as reporter for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).

“Shannan Rojas, who teaches the Health Science/Practicum classes, has positively influenced me from the moment we met,” said Francis. “She helped guide me in my career choices and served as a support system and a shoulder to lean on. NISD has prepared me for my future career by implementing the Health Science endorsement which has given me a foundation of medical knowledge. Also, the AP classes have prepared me for rigorous courses.”

Luis Lopez is this year’s salutatorian from Holmes High School. He plans to study education at the University of North Texas and hopes to become a music educator.

The son of Luis Lopez and Karen Navejas also attended Martin Elementary School and Ross Middle School.

He earned a UNT Excellence Scholarship and scholarships from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Fabric of Society.

At Holmes, he served as class historian and low brass section leader in the Husky Marching Band.

His most influential teacher was Robert Delgado at Ross MS.

“This teacher inspired my musical career and showed me that I could learn to live out all my dreams if I committed to them and gave all my effort to that cause,” Lopez said. “He never doubted my abilities and gave me the opportunity to be the best version of myself at all times.”

Jay High School

Anna Karen Chapa, Valedictorian

Jacob Paul Willis, Salutatorian

Anna Karen Chapa is the 2019 valedictorian from Jay High School and plans to major in exploratory studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio to prepare for a career as a biochemist.

The daughter of Karen and Flavio Chapa also attended Fisher Elementary School and Luna Middle School. At Jay, she served as Student Council president and recruiting chairman.

She earned a UTSA Presidential Scholarship, Calvin Buchholtz Student Council Scholarship, Gina Jones Scholarship, and San Antonio Education Partnership Scholarship.

Jay Student Council advisor Daniela Mercado had a huge influence on Chapa.

“I truly believe I wouldn’t be the motivated, organized, and mature young woman I am if it were not for the guidance she has provided me and the lessons she has taught me,” Chapa said. “There are lessons that will prove to be essential to my life after high school.”

“I would like to thank my mother, father, and little brother for providing nothing but unconditional love and support. I would also like to thank another very important person in my life who has proved to be equally influential and beneficial to my growth as a leader, Calvin Buchholtz.”

Jacob Paul Willis is the 2019 salutatorian from Jay High School and plans to attend Northwest Vista College to prepare for a career as a fitness trainer and bakery owner.

The son of Russell and Jenny Willis also attended Jones Middle School.

At Jay, Willis was Baking and Pastry Manager with the culinary program and ran cross country.  

“Food Science teacher Ericka Esquivel has driven me to leave my comfort zone and complete projects I may not have attempted on my own,” Willis said. “She has honed my culinary techniques as well as opened up opportunities for me to receive professional training within the food industry. Furthermore, she has challenged me to contemplate higher educational goals that I had originally thought unobtainable.”

Jay Science and Engineering Academy

Kendrick Golden, Valedictorian

Jonathan David Castro, Salutatorian

Kendrick Golden is the 2019 valedictorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy and plans to major in economics and philosophy at the University of Chicago to prepare for a career in economic consulting.

“NISD has been preparing me for my future since elementary school by giving me opportunities to explore different career paths and learn all of the skills necessary for success,” Golden said.  “In particular, the Science & Engineering Academy has helped me with the college application process while allowing me to participate in student groups that enhance my resume.”

The son of Diane Salazar also attended Timberwilde Elementary School and Connally Middle School. He earned a Odyssey Scholarship from the University of Chicago and a San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Scholarship.

He served as Robotics FTC captain for the Science Academy.

Golden said his elementary gifted and talented teacher Sean Vidal was a positive influence on his life.               

“He is responsible for my love of learning and my interest in so many different fields,” Golden said. “By taking part in so many different projects within his class, I came to the realization that there is so much to learn about seemingly simple subjects. These projects also built my critical reasoning skills and taught me how to work cooperatively as a team. Additionally, his constant encouragement helped build my confidence at a time in my life when I wasn’t very outgoing.”

Jonathan David Castro is the 2019 salutatorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy. He plans to study chemical engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His future career aspirations include becoming a chemical engineer and entrepreneur. 

He is the son of Ana Laura Aguilar and Jesus David Castro. He attended Colonies North Elementary School and Hobby and Rawlinson middle schools.

Castro earned a Baumberger Endowment Scholarship and scholarships from the San Antonio Education Partnership and San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

Castro served as captain of the UIL Science Team, Ignition Green chapter president, team leader for the SAWS IMPACT team, physics director for SEA STEM Fest, and was part of the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.

He said his most influential Northside teacher was his AP Physics teacher Armando Sanchez.

“I remember staying late nights in his class studying for Physics or Science UIL,” Sanchez said.  “He was always there to help me, and never seemed to get tired of teaching me. I am grateful to have had such a noetic experience with Mr. Sanchez, but that was not the only reason why he made such an impact on my life. What truly made a mark was a relatively small interaction, only about a minute in length. At a time of need, Mr. Sanchez spoke honestly and openly with me. I’m not sure why, but what he said just stuck. At that moment, the notion that teachers were much, much more than just teachers... stuck. Since then, I have tried to become a better student and person towards all of my teachers.”

Marshall High School

Abigail Lauren Ostmo, Valedictorian

Devin Geelhoed, Salutatorian

Abigail Lauren Ostmo is the 2019 Marshall High School valedictorian and plans to study physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career as an astrophysicist.

The daughter of David and Bev Ostmo also attended Thornton Elementary School and Rudder Middle School. She held several leadership positions at Marshall including Latin Club president, Astronomy Club president and cofounder, clarinet section leader in the Ram Band, and treasurer of the Texas Junior Classical League. She was a member of the Marshall Academic Decathlon team that won second place in the state and was a high school Aerospace Scholar.

She earned numerous scholarships including a Texas Academic Decathlon Scholarship, Valedictorian Scholarship from UT Austin, President’s Distinguished Scholarship from the University of North Texas, and a President’s Distinguished Scholarship from UTSA.

Ostmo cited two influential teachers from high school.

“Ruben Pena always encouraged me to do my best and accept nothing short of perfection,” Ostmo said. “He showed me how to be successful in everything I do.”

“Anthony Gonzales makes everything from optics to history to economics easy to learn through his use of analogies and stories. He creates a welcoming and fun environment in his classroom that is sure to brighten anyone’s day.”

Devin Geelhoed is the 2019 Marshall High School salutatorian. He will enroll in the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin and prepare for a career in public service.

The son of Judy and Mike Geelhoed attended Thornton Elementary School and Rudder Middle School. He earned an Academic Decathlon Scholarship as part of the second place team in the state.

“Northside has provided me with opportunities to experience whatever I have wanted to from music and sports to advanced academics in order to develop new skills, discover my interests, and pursue knowledge,” Geelhoed said. “The great thing about NISD is that I have done this within a community of people who reflect the way society appears today. This has allowed me to learn from and appreciate cultures and traditions different from my own.”

At Marshall, he served as Academic Decathlon team captain, National Honor Society president, band vice president, clarinet section leader, and as a senior mentor.

“The teacher that most influenced me in Northside has to be my third grade teacher, Tracy Tapia, who allowed me to recognize my true potential while at the same time inspiring me to act each day with the basic, but oh so important, character traits that she showcased including kindness, love, and respect,” Geelhoed said.

O’Connor High School

Peyton Davis, Valedictorian

Eric Qi, Salutatorian

Peyton Davis is this year’s valedictorian at O’Connor High School. He will major in environmental geosciences at Texas A&M University to prepare for a career in environmental litigation.

The son of Brenda and Joe Davis attended Beard and Kuentz elementary schools and Hector Garcia Middle School.

He received several scholarships including a Las Casas Foundation Scholarship in 2018 and 2019. He also received a USAA Employee Dependent Scholarship, an Achievement Gold Scholarship from Baylor University, a President’s Endowed Scholarship, Opportunity Award, and George W. Crocker Scholarship, all from Texas A&M University.

At O’Connor, he served as class vice president and PTA technology chair.

Davis’ most influential Northside teacher was his 11th grade English teacher, Justin Stephens.

“He is my most influential teacher because he is the person who finally let me connect the dots and realize that there is a power in simplicity when it comes to writing or any form of expression including speech,” Davis said. “This lesson, along with other things I took with me from his class, really freed me from obsessing over being the best, which, in turn, actually made me better.”

Eric Qi is this year’s salutatorian at O’Connor High School and plans to major in electrical engineering at Duke University to prepare for a career in IT or electrical engineering.

The son of Wenbo Qi and Qun Li also attended Carson Elementary School and Stevenson Middle School.

He earned a Duke University Scholars Award, a Pre-Freshman Engineering Program Scholarship to St. Mary’s University, and an E.R. and Patti C. Breaker Scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin.   

His most influential teacher in Northside has been his Latin teacher Preston Edwards.

“I have had Mr. Edwards for three years now, and he has been the most chill and humble person I have ever met,” Qi said. “What he offers isn’t just information about the study of Latin, but rather, invaluable life experiences he tells to his students in the form of anecdotes. After getting to know him for three years, he is the embodiment of the cool uncle everyone wants, and he never ceases to make the class laugh and joyful.”

Stevens High School

Jeffrey Marbid, Valedictorian

Aijalyn Gonzales, Salutatorian

Jeffrey Marbid is the 2019 valedictorian for Stevens High School. He will be attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in physics and history to prepare for a career as a software engineer.

The son of Paulette and Franly Marbid also attended Vale Middle School.

He served as cello section leader in the orchestra, team media leader with orchestra council, and secretary of the Classics Club.

He said his most influential teacher was his AP World History teacher, Brandon Utterback.

“I remember being extremely shy and not able to speak English properly,” Marbid said. “By the time I entered his class, he taught me to speak up, to embrace my personality, and not be afraid to explore my weaknesses. After taking his class, I am absolutely grateful for the skills I gain from him and am applying all of them today in my life.”

Aijalyn Gonzles is the 2019 salutatorian for Stevens High School. She will be attending St. Mary’s University and plans to major in biology. Her future career possibilities include pediatric gastroenterologist, rheumatologist, or infectious disease specialist.

The daughter of Priscilla Francis-Gonzales and Henry Gonzalez also attended Hatchett Elementary School and Pease Middle School.

She served as founder and president of the Christian fellowship/youth group LITT (Living in the Truth) Club.

She says her most influential teacher is AV Production teacher, Patrick Tejeda because “he taught me how to manage many deadlines and projects and always encouraged my creative expression.”

“God has used my education at Northside to build perseverance and individuality within me,” Gonzales said. “My experiences in school have enabled me to connect with people from different backgrounds, discover my own passions, and manage tasks. It has instilled a vigorous work ethic that I will use in my college years.”

Taft High School

Joshua Ryan King, Valedictorian

Lizamar Santos Ibañez, Salutatorian

Lucy Christian Reasons, Salutatorian

Joshua Ryan King is this year’s valedictorian at Taft High School. He plans to attend Brigham Young University and major in mechanical engineering to prepare for a career as a nuclear fusion specialist.

The son of Amanda and Jonathan King earned a Heritage Scholarship from Brigham Young University.  

“NISD has helped me to prepare for college by giving me the opportunity to start my college career early through advanced courses and the opportunity to explore potential careers through the Gifted and Talented Independent Study Mentorship (ISM) program,” King said.

At Taft, King also served as secretary of the National Honor Society.

He said his ninth grade English teacher, Robert Kolar, was his most influential teacher. “He helped me to recognize what the study of the English language is meant to teach, how to communicate, and understand the world more effectively.”

Lizamar Santos Ibañez is one of two salutatorians at Taft High School. She will attend the University of Texas at San Antonio and major in nursing to prepare for a career as a nurse and later physician’s assistant.

The daughter of Elizabeth Ibañez Cintron and Waldemar Santos Cruz also attended Knowlton and Langley elementary schools and Briscoe Middle School.

She received a Texas Excellence Grant and Federal Pell Grant.

At Taft, she served as class president, a freshman mentor, and as part of the Chick Fil A Leadership Academy.  

She is grateful for two inspirational teachers at Taft High School.  

“There are two teachers that will forever be in my heart and I will forever cherish the lessons and advice that they both gave me,” Ibañez said. “First, Kimberly Cook was my pep squad director freshman year, and my dance coach my senior year. Ms. Cook is the strongest female I know and she has taught me to value myself, to always work hard in achieving my goals, and that anything is possible as long as you set your mind to it.

Secondly, Damian Durand has literally been the rock holding me up my senior year and has shaped me into the leader I am today. I want to thank him for working so hard in making the senior class strive and for always listening to my long and boring stories about how stressed I am. He is literally the coolest, most sincere person I have ever met.”

Lucy Christian Reasons is also salutatorian at Taft High School this year. She will attend Texas State University and major in biology to prepare for a career as a forensic pathologist.

The daughter of Jennifer Reasons and David and Carolyn Reasons also attended Connally Middle School.

She earned a College of Science and Engineering University Scholars Award, Patti Strickel Harrison Scholarship, and President’s Honor Scholarship, all from Texas State University.

“NISD has helped me to prepare for college by allowing me to complete college credit early through Dual Credit and OnRamps and giving me the resources to prepare for everything college has to offer,” said Reasons.

At Taft, Reasons was the Thespian Troupe 4557 vice president and treasurer. She also had theatre teacher Amanda Pyle for four years.

“She has taught me what it means to be a leader, how to overcome adversity, and has been one of my greatest role models,” Reasons said. 

Warren High School

Daisy Gizelle Brockhouse, Valedictorian

Abigail Renee Ramos Ketchum, Salutatorian

Daisy Gizelle Brockhouse is the 2019 valedictorian at Warren High School and plans to major in neuroscience at Northwestern University to prepare for a future career as a neurosurgeon.

She earned a National Honor Society Scholarship and Quest Bridge National Match Scholarship.

The daughter of Marcus and Christina Villegas also attended Fernandez Elementary School and Jordan Middle School. Her most influential teacher was her fifth grade teacher, Donna James.

“She taught me that innate ability means nothing if not coupled with effort and dedication,” Brockhouse said.

At Warren, she served as president of the Future Physicians Club and captain of the Latin Quiz Bowl team.

“NISD has taught me how to deal with academic rigor, manage heavy workloads, and allocate time more efficiently,” Brockhouse said. “I hope to utilize these skills through a life of academia. I would like to thank my teachers for supporting me and always pushing me to challenge myself, and my family for being my source of motivation and endless encouragement.”

Abigail Renee Ramos Ketchum is the 2019 salutatorian at Warren High School and plans to major in animal science at Texas Tech University to prepare for a career as a veterinarian.

The daughter of Delisa and Robert Ramos also attended Elrod Elementary School and Connally Middle School.

She earned a National Honor Society Scholarship, Texas Tech Presidential Scholarship, Honors College Scholarship, and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Dean’s Scholarship.

Ketchum served as 2018-2019 National Honor Society president.

“I would like to thank every teacher, counselor and administrator that has been a part of my journey this far,” Ketchum said. “It is because of you that I am able to pursue my dreams.”

Her most influential Northside teacher has been Warren HS teacher Terri Clarac.

“Mrs. Clarac has been so supportive these past two years,” Ketchum said. “She pushes me to be my best and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I will always be grateful for everything she has taught me.”