Northside ISD is pleased to feature our high school valedictorians and salutatorians for this year.
Ashlyn Rae Zingelmann, the valedictorian for Brandeis High School, plans to attend the University of North Texas and major in Business Integrated Studies/Pre-Law. She plans to pursue a career as a lawyer.
She earned several scholarships including a University of North Texas President’s Scholarship, a scholarship to play on the soccer team, and a homecoming queen scholarship.
The daughter of Merideth and Neal Zingelmann also attended Beard Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
During her time at Brandeis, she served as Team Captain for the varsity soccer team for two years, 2017-2018 Class President, a Broncos Building Bridges Leader, and was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I want to thank my parents, siblings, friends, teammates, and family for all of their support throughout my life,” Zingelmann said. “I want to thank my teachers that challenged me and guided me each day. I also want to especially recognize my study group friends; they pushed me to work harder and laugh more, and I will always cherish the memories of those days.”
Zingelmann said her most influential teacher was Travis Smith, her soccer coach at Brandeis.
“He has truly inspired me to possess an insatiable desire to achieve in all areas of life,” Zingelmann said. “More importantly, he is also the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader, and has taught me that the greatest aspect of life is not the accomplishments, but it is fostering family and friendship in positive relationships. I am grateful to have had Coach as my mentor; he has made me a better soccer player, leader, and person.”
Andrew Luo, the salutatorian for Brandeis High School, plans to major in computer science at Brown University.
The son of Wenbin Luo and Qiaoying Zhou also attended Beard Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School. His future career is undecided.
He earned the Murchison Scholarship from Trinity University, a Tuition Exchange Scholarship from Case Western Reserve University, and a PREP Scholarship from St. Mary’s University.
Luo cites physics teacher Thomas Wilson as his most influential teacher in Northside.
“Mr. Wilson puts in an unimaginable amount of effort to provide his students with the best lessons, labs, and resources. He is incredibly enthusiastic and motivates all of his students through the passion in his teaching.”
Outside of school, Luo served as manager of Team MAKbots (FTC Robotics), as Summit Youth Leadership Club Texas Chapter President, and as a high school research scholar with Dr. Amir Jafari’s team which was published in Elsevier.
“NISD has always supported me and all my endeavors,” Luo said. “Since elementary school, there has always been a strong network of parents, staff, and students who have put forth a tremendous effort to create exciting opportunities. Special thanks to LeAnne Gisler, Lelani Heist, Jennifer Schulze-Aguirre, Isabelle Morris, Jill Chudej-Garcia, and Kristen Gunter. These teachers all made a huge impact on my high school experience and inspired me to explore my passions both in and outside of school.”
Jordan Danielle Rider is the 2020 valedictorian at Brennan High School. She plans to major in mechanical engineering at the University of North Texas in preparation for a career as a mechanical engineer.
The daughter of John and Shauntella Rider earned a Dean’s Scholarship from the University of North Texas. Rider also attended Bernal and Briscoe middle schools.
Rider served as a Drum Major and Flute Section Leader for the Brennan Marching Band.
“I’d like to thank everyone that has been a part of the Brennan Bear Marching Band during my four years of high school, for almost all of my best memories. And I’d like to thank the few friends I made outside of the band for the rest of those moments I’ll always cherish.”
Her most influential teacher in NISD was her Pre-Calculus and Calculus teacher at Brennan, Amy Sachs.
She was always supportive and pushed her kids to challenge themselves academically and personally,” Rider said. “Mrs. Sachs is extremely dedicated and enthusiastic about some of the simplest things in life. She’s one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Thank you for being amazing Mrs. Sachs!”
Andrew Michael Fisher is the 2020 salutatorian at Brennan High School.
The son of Kent and Jina Fisher plans to study biomedical sciences at Texas A&M University and become a veterinarian.
At Brennan, he was a percussion captain.
Fisher said he could not pick just one influential teacher.
“I do not like comparing teachers, as each teacher can play a different important role in a person’s life which is incomparable. I’d like to thank all the teachers and people I had genuine conversations with.”
Manusri Kalakdonda, the valedictorian at Business Careers High School, will attend the University of Pennsylvania and major in economics with a concentration in management. She plans to pursue a career as a financial analyst or marketing manager.
The daughter of Hari Prasad and Latha Kalakonda also attended Locke Hill Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School.
At Business Careers, she served as secretary of the National Honor Society and Chief Information Officer of the Academy Board.
She cites her junior and senior year business teacher Carolyn Mullins as her most influential teacher in Northside.
“She made me realize that I loved business and that I wanted to pursue a career in it,” said Kalakonda. “Mrs. Mullins supported me and believed in me and my capabilities.”
“Thank you to all of my teachers for believing in me and realizing the potential in me. My teachers supported, encouraged, and motivated me to always do better and make a difference.”
Annabella Madison Galvan the salutatorian at Business Careers High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin where she will study computer science. Her future career goal is to be a district attorney.
She is the daughter of Johnny Marcos and Lisa Galvan and was a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and National English Honor Society at Business Careers.
She was selected as a Dell Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. She also earned scholarships from St. Mary’s University, Suffolk University, and the University of Massachusetts- Boston.
Galvan said her most influential teacher was her senior year AVID teacher Monica Yzaguirre.
“She taught me to believe in myself, and understand my potential, and rise above the limits I place on myself every day,” Galvan said. “She, as well as my whole AVID class, have taught me that even when the going gets tough, someone will always be there for you.”
“Thank you to my family for always cheering me on and believing in me. Thank you to every friend I’ve made these past four years, you have made high school so unbelievably fun. And thank you to all my teachers for not only teaching me their subjects, but for helping me learn about myself and all that I am able to do.”
Matthew Hunter Anderson is this year’s valedictorian at Clark High School. He plans to study mathematical economic analysis at Rice University. The son of Randy and Patti Anderson also attended Blattman and Scobee elementary schools and Rawlinson Middle School.
He earned a Canfield BHP Scholarship, Ernest & Marie Graham Scholarship, J. Kent Trinkle Scholarship, Rapier Educational Foundation Scholarship, and Rice Investment Full Tuition Scholarship.
At Clark, he served as Varsity Orchestra Co-Concertmaster and National Honor Society Member. He was named an All-State Pianist, Texas Music Scholar, and received a National AP Scholar with Distinction Award.
“NISD has provided me with some of the best teachers as well as resources to pursue my aspirations in college and beyond. I have been able to take advanced coursework that will undoubtedly prepare me for the rigorous classes I plan to take as a future student at Rice University. From the large number of resources available through the library system at my school to the large offering of extracurricular activities NISD has helped make available at Clark High School, I am sure I will be prepared for any future challenges that lie ahead.”
Anderson said his influential teacher was his sophomore Algebra II teacher, Mark Pedroza.
“Mr. Pedroza was my influential role model who helped to develop my love of chess and mathematics,” Anderson said. “Through his teachings in both of these areas, Mr. Pedroza has helped me become a better problem solver, which will undoubtedly contribute to my continued success in the future.”
Zhiyuan (Michael) Ning is this year’s salutatorian at Clark High School and plans to major in computer science at The University of Texas at Austin. He aspires to become a programmer or neuroscientist.
He is the son of Suping Jin and Yu Ning and also attended Locke Hill Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School.
Ning earned a scholarship from the United States Automobile Association (USAA). At Clark, he served as secretary of the Science Honor Society and web developer for the robotics team.
“Certainly, NISD has set the foundations for higher education, and I am grateful for everything that I have learned. I believe it has given me more than just knowledge, it has given me an environment much like the real world where I can interact and thrive with others.”
He met his most influential teacher in Northside, Clark Algebra II teacher Mark Pedroza, during his sophomore year.
“Since then, he has become one of my most cherished teachers,” Ning said. “He has not only taught me mathematics, but he has also given me a time to enjoy my high school years, as any teenager should. I would visit his classroom almost every day after school, forging memories that I will never forget. Mr. Pedroza has a unique ability to gravitate the students towards him, and I felt incredibly comfortable in his presence. As I look back now at the activities and time we spent together has not only helped me become a better student, but a better person as well.”
Taylor Morgan McClung is the 2020 valedictorian of Communications Arts High School. She plans to attend The University of Texas Austin and major in chemical engineering to prepare for a career as a chemical engineer.
The daughter of Colonel Michael and Angela McClung also attended Briscoe Middle School.
She earned a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, Air Force Federal Credit Union Scholarship, National Honor Society Scholarship, Taft Athletic Booster Club Scholarship, and the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Emo Jean Cottrell Scholarship.
She chose Jaime Frias, who she had as her eighth grade English teacher at Briscoe and as her ninth grade speech/media criticism teacher at Communications Arts, as her most influential Northside teacher.
“She influenced me the most because she was always kind to me and supported my endeavors,” McClung said. “As my eighth grade English teacher, she encouraged me to be a better writer. As my speech and media criticism teacher, she improved my public speaking and analysis skills. Her most important role in my life, however, has been as the sponsor of Helping Hands Club. As sponsor, she has worked effortlessly to ensure our club has done everything possible to serve our community. Her hard work and dedication to our club has fueled my love of community service. I could never have achieved what I have in high school without her support. She truly is an amazing teacher.”
Erika Elizabeth Howlett is the 2020 salutatorian of Communications Arts High School. She plans to attend the University of Arizona and study linguistics.
She is the daughter of Lisa and Colin Howlett and also attended Henderson Elementary School and Briscoe Middle School. She earned an Arizona Distinction Scholarship and Dean's Exemplary Award.
She said her most influential teacher was her 11th and 12th grade Spanish teacher Dora Delgado.
“Maestra Delgado has really helped me to realize my passion for studying languages and has always been compassionate, helpful, and supportive to all her students both in and outside of class,” said Howlett.
“Getting to attend Comm Arts has provided me with so many opportunities to learn new things and explore my passions. Specialized classes like Digital Interactive Media and A/V Production have helped me learn exciting and useful new skills. Having the opportunity to participate in History Fair was also a very fun experience that I am sure will help me with similar research projects in college.”
Sarah Paola Mendoza Dela Cruz is the 2020 valedictorian for Construction Careers Academy (CCA). She plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin and major in mathematics to prepare for a career as an actuary.
The daughter of Norma and Ivan Mendoza also attended Ward Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School. At CCA, she served on the Principal’s Cabinet and as Mellophone Section Leader in the Warren band.
Her most influential Northside teacher was her middle school English and GT teacher, Travis Leech.
“Out of all my 13 years of education, Mr. Leech is probably the teacher I want to make the most proud,” Dela Cruz said. “Thank you for believing in me and sticking with me through the trials and tribulations of middle school. I still remember that one day we met again years later by chance. You were going to a faculty meeting and I to the administration office. I didn’t get to tell you then, so I’ll say it here- ‘Thank you for remembering me and inspiring me to push my limits.’”
She also had a special shout out for a fellow 2020 valedictorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy.
“Mariana Uhlig, thank you for being my friend and inspiration since kindergarten. I never imagined I’d be friends with you 13 years later but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to many more years in college!”
Michelle Navarro is the 2020 salutatorian for Construction Careers Academy (CCA). She plans to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio and major in civil engineering to prepare for a career as a civil engineer.
The daughter of Claudia Camacho and Miguel Navarro also attended Driggers Elementary School and Connally Middle School.
She received a University of Texas at San Antonio Distinguished Presidential Scholarship and Texas Society of Professional Engineers/University of Texas at San Antonio Engineering Design Junk Drawer Competition Scholarship.
“By being able to attend a school like Construction Careers Academy, I have been able to gain skills and experiences that are beneficial and useful in the outside world,” Navarro said. “It has led me to a career path and has brought amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to receive in any other district or school. Northside has provided students with a variety of opportunities to lead them into their right career path.”
Navarro was a member of the National Honor Society and served in the Warren Athletic Training program where she met her most influential teacher Leah Melonas, head athletic training coach.
“By being part of Warren’s athletic training program the last three years, Coach Melonas was able to teach me skills that I would not have been able to learn anywhere else,” Navarro said. “She inspired me every day to work hard as she continued to do so in the program. If it weren’t for her constant support to motivate us to work harder and step outside our comfort zone, I would not be the person I am today.”
Danielle Erin Sotelo is the 2020 valedictorian of Harlan High School. She plans to major in medical laboratory science at the University of Texas at Austin. Her future career goal is to become a pediatric oncologist.
She is the daughter of Daniel Sotelo & Rebecca Torres and also attended Ward Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School.
“It is in my belief that NISD has employed some of the best educators in Texas,” said Sotelo. “NISD faculty ensures every student fulfills and even surpasses their potential through constant positivity, unique styles of teaching, and advanced curriculum. The message conveyed by NISD faculty has always instilled that we are in charge of our futures, meaning we can embark on any endeavors we set our minds to. NISD has taught me that through diligence and empathy, no aspiration is unattainable and no obstacle is too large to overcome.”
Sotelo has earned several scholarships including a Deborah Knapp Scholarship, Jack C. Jordan Scholarship, Carvajal Educational Fund Scholarship, MHM Scholarship honoring George Wray Jr. & Col. Vane Hugo, and Rapier Educational Foundation Scholarship.
She served as Class of 2020 Parliamentarian, Class Spirit Officer, a UIL Ready Writing Competitor, and a member of the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society.
Her most influential NISD teacher is Shanna Gibson who taught her in the 8th grade at Jefferson Middle School and ninth grade at Taft High School.
“Mrs. Gibson flourished my writing skills with her constant words of empowerment,” Sotelo said. “She saw potential in my writing and curated an array of practices and exercises for me, enabling me to grow as a writer. Her one-on-one approach to teaching allowed for personalized learning experiences. Her encouragement in students reading and writing endeavors was insurmountable.”
Noah Allen Hodge is the 2020 salutatorian of Harlan High School. He plans to major in applied mathematics and computer science at The University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career in Bioinformatics.
He is the son of Michael and Pepper Hodge and also attended Adams Hill and Langley elementary schools, Briscoe and Bernal middle schools, and Brennan High School.
His scholarships include a UTSA Distinguished Presidential Scholarship, Texas A&M University Opportunity Award and President’s Endowed Scholarship, Rice Investment Grant, Patterson Law Group Text Free for Distracted Driving Scholarship, and a University of Texas at Austin UT Award.
Hodge was one of 15 students in the city selected to participate in the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy at the end of his sophomore year.
“Although I gave up two of my summers, the experience and opportunities that I received through the program made it more than worth my time,” Hodge said. “I would like to thank Dr. Chapa from the Voelcker Academy, as well as the rest of the Voelcker family.”
He cited Harlan math teacher Madeline Frazier as his most influential teacher.
“Mrs. Frazier is not only an excellent teacher, but she is an inspiration, a guide, and the most caring teacher I have ever had,” Hodge said. “She cares about her students, not only in the classroom, but out of the classroom as well. She goes above and beyond what is called for as a teacher and should be an inspiration and a model for all other teachers.”
Linda Liu is the 2020 valedictorian of Health Careers High School and will be attending Stanford University.
She is the daughter of Qinghua Liang and Kevin Liu and earned a Trustee Distinguished Scholarship from Rice University.
At Health Careers, she served as Class of 2020 Vice President and Secretary, Latin Club Historian, and Greek History Category Leader.
“Health Careers has taught me the value of a strong work-life balance and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone to pursue academic opportunities,” Liu said. “I am incredibly grateful for all my teachers and counselors who worked tirelessly to support me and my academic endeavors. I also have to thank my friends for making these four years the most fun experience of my entire life, and for teaching me that good friends are as essential to the high school experience as pulling all-nighters. And, of course, I am extremely thankful for my parents for being my eternal cheerleaders and tireless chauffeurs.”
Her most influential teacher in Northside was her Latin teacher John Chu.
“Mr. Chu has been a teacher, mentor, and friend to me for four years at Health Careers,” Liu said. “He, along with my other Latin teachers, Mr. Lehmann and Mr. Van Eimeren, has inspired my passion for the Classics that I hope to continue in college. Not only that, Mr. Chu works tirelessly to ensure that each and every student has the opportunity to be successful in his class, which is something that I’ll always admire about him.”
Skanda Hebbale is the 2020 salutatorian of Health Careers High School. He plans to major in biology to prepare for a career as a physician, researcher, or musician.
The son of Asha Nagaraj and Srinivasa Hebbale also attended Scobee Elementary School and Stinson Middle School.
“NISD has broadened my view of all the possibilities and opportunities life has to offer while also sharpening my work ethic and skill set to take advantage of such possibilities and opportunities,” Hebbale said.
He earned several scholarships including a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, University of Cincinnati Presidential Scholarship, University of Miami Ronald A. Hammond Scholarship, University of Texas at Dallas Academic Excellence Scholarship, and University of Texas at Austin Dell Scholarship.
At Health Careers, he served as saxophone leader of the Jazz Band.
His most influential teacher was his sixth grade science teacher at Stinson Middle School, John Laymon.
“He created a judge-free zone in class where no student was made fun of for making a mistake, allowing each and every single individual to grow and improve with the guidance of others,” Hebbale said. “In addition to fostering a deep love of learning within me, Mr. Laymon’s friendly, outgoing personality always raised my spirits when I needed it, making me always look forward to going to his class. He cared deeply for each of his students and gave some of the wisest yet simple advice anyone could ever give, helping people reach their goals and dreams in realistic ways. I can never forget how archetypical of a good person he was.”
Angela Noemi Calderón is this year’s valedictorian from Holmes High School and plans to attend St. Mary’s University. She will major in English Language and Literature with a Teaching Certification to prepare for a career as a teacher.
The daughter of Claudia and Carlos Calderón also attended Glenoaks and Villarreal elementary schools and Neff Middle School. She earned a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, Trustees Scholarship, Federal Pell Grant, and Tuition Equalization Grant.
At Holmes, she was an Air Force JROTC Executive Officer and Pep Squad Alpha Leader.
“Getting involved in sports, choir, JROTC, theatre, and the Goldenbelles dance team allowed me to meet a large variety of people and make the best friends of my life,” Calderón said. “I wouldn't have felt as motivated and as supported as I did without these people in my life. I will miss my years at Holmes High School very much.”
Her most influential teacher was her sixth grade teacher at Neff MS, Sarah Brown.
“She was very wise and caring,” Calderón said. “She went the extra mile to educate and had a large impact on my character going forward in my school career.”
Star Monique Pilar is this year’s salutatorian from Holmes High School. She plans to study architecture and construction management at the University of Houston and hopes to become an architect.
The daughter of Merlie Pilar also attended Glass and Villarreal elementary schools and Neff Middle School. She earned a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship.
At Holmes, she served as class historian, played varsity tennis, and was a member of AVID, National Honor Society, and the National English Honor Society.
Her most influential teacher was Monica Yzaguirre, her 12th grade AVID teacher.
“Mrs. Y is one of the most inspirational teachers I have met throughout my high school years. She pushed me to become the best version of me and allowed me to see that I am worth more than I think I am,” Pilar said. “Meeting Mrs. Y has made a huge impact on my education. Mrs. Y’s honesty and positivity towards her students will always be one of her memorable traits and I am thankful for getting a chance to become one of her students.”
Jeremiah Smith Figueroa is the 2020 valedictorian from Jay High School and plans to major in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career as a writer and editor.
The son of Anthony and Valeriana Figueroa also attended Allen Elementary School and Rayburn Middle School.
He earned an Arthur F. Graf III Scholarship and the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Excellence Scholarship.
“Northside has prepared me for college and a career by providing me with opportunities to challenge myself through Advanced Placement courses,” Figueroa said. “These classes also saved me time and money by giving me the opportunity to earn college credit.”
Jay High School English teacher Celinda De La Fuente had a huge influence on Figueroa.
“Ms. De La Fuente reignited my dreams of becoming an author in her class and introduced me to Mexican-American literature,” Figueroa said.
Sara Rhiannon Lancaster is the 2020 salutatorian from Jay High School and plans to attend the University of the Incarnate Word. She will major in biology with a pre-pharmacy track to prepare for a career as a clinical pharmacist.
The daughter of Sarita and Christopher Lancaster also attended Passmore Elementary School and Jones Middle School.
“NISD is full of wonderful and considerate teachers,” Lancaster said. “Since elementary school, I have received all the encouragement in the world. They have encouraged me and allowed me to strive to be the best I can be. With this support, I wanted to pursue the best grades for a prestigious college and career.”
She earned a Presidential Scholarship from Incarnate Word, an Academic Scholarship from Texas A&M University, and a San Antonio Education Partnership (SAEP) Scholarship.
At Jay, Lancaster was vice president of the Astronomy Club and treasurer of the Mural Club.
Abraham Frias, Pre-AP and AP Chemistry teacher at Jay, was her most influential teacher.
“He showed me that I am capable of tackling difficult tasks and can overcome them,” Lancaster said. “Mr. Frias was able to maintain a sense of humor while teaching challenging curriculum and that is something I admire. I am grateful for our conversations throughout high school and his encouragement on the future path I strive to take.”
Mariana Lizette Uhlig is the 2020 valedictorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy and plans to major in aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career as an aerospace engineer.
The daughter of Paul Uhlig and Luz Del Carmen Chavez Baca also attended Ward Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School.
“I want to say thank you to the teachers and administration at my elementary school who helped me and my family through a difficult time. Even though I was in middle school at the time, they reached out to my family and supported us without a second thought. The kindness and selflessness of NISD staff has helped me so much throughout these 12 years and I will forever be grateful for that.”
She earned a University of Texas Engineering Honors Scholarship, Valedictorian Scholarship to the University of Texas, a Brown University scholarship, and New York University Stern Scholarship.
She served as Drum Major and Mellophone Section Leader for the Mustang Band and Chess Club vice president.
“NISD has given me the chance to take rigorous and exciting courses that have ultimately helped me realize what I want to study in college,” Uhlig said. “The opportunity to go to a STEM-oriented school also gave me beneficial experiences like conducting academic research and participating in outreach, both of which have shown me the endless possibilities available to those in STEM.”
Uhlig said Megan Stewart, her World Geography and AP U.S. History teacher, was her most influential teacher.
“Though I was quiet and reserved when in her class, she still made efforts to reach out to me and make me feel comfortable in her classroom, which ultimately helped me come out of my shell,” Uhlig said. “She also helped me realize my true potential in academics and never stopped believing in me.”
Peter Mason is the 2020 salutatorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy. He plans to study biochemistry and finance at the University of Texas at Austin. His future career aspiration is to become an entrepreneur.
He is the son of Claudia Sosa and Peter Mason and attended Mireles Elementary School and Briscoe Middle School.
Mason served as vice president of the National Honor Society and earned a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship.
“Through NISD and the Science Academy, I have been able to take a plethora of Advanced Placement and On-Ramps courses that have helped me push myself and experience the college curriculum in high school,” Mason said.
He said his most influential Northside teacher was his biology teacher Jennifer Grover.
“She was always there to lend a hand and made the classroom environment super fun and welcoming,” Mason said. “Although she did not directly inspire me for my majors, she helped me grow as a person as she has for many others in the classroom.
Gabriel Omar Casanova is the 2020 Marshall High School valedictorian and plans to study computer science at The University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career as software engineer.
The son of Omar and Guadalupe Casanova also attended Thornton Elementary School and Rudder Middle School. He was selected as a Dell Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin.
“NISD has prepared me for my future by allowing me to learn both in and outside of the classroom from some of the best K-12 teachers I could have ever asked for,” Casanova said. “I’d like to say one final thank you to both of my beautiful parents: I love you both immensely.”
He held several leadership positions at Marshall including president and violin section leader for the Marshall Orchestra, vice president of the Spanish National Honor Society, and recurring officer of the Science National Honor Society.
Casanova cited Linda Vera, his sophomore and junior year Spanish teacher, as his most influential teacher.
“Señora Vera showed me that with just a bit of love and dedication anything in this world is possible,” Casnova said. “¡Gracias por todo lo que has hecho, quédate increíble Señora!”
Annie Julene Updike is the 2020 Marshall High School salutatorian. She will attend Brigham Young University, majoring in business. Her career aspiration is to own her own business.
The daughter of Lisle and MaryAnn Updike attended Boone Elementary School and Rudder Middle School.
“NISD has taught me how to serve and be part of something bigger than myself,” Updike said. “It has also provided me with great educators who showed me what I am capable of.”
She earned multiple scholarships including a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, an academic scholarship to Brigham Young, a BYU Marching Band Talent Award Scholarship, John Marshall Booster Club Scholarship, and Kimberly Doyle-Grace Memorial Scholarship.
At Marshall, she was varsity basketball captain, Early Morning Bible Study Class President, and Youth Group President.
Her most influential NISD teacher was her sixth grade band director at Rudder MS, Peter Strauss.
“Mr. Strauss taught me how to play bassoon as my beginner band director,” Updike said. “He continued teaching me private lessons throughout high school and has always gone above and beyond by challenging me to do more than I thought I could. It was a joy to learn from such a talented teacher and he always had more to give me. I would not be half the musician I am today without his efforts and dedication.”
Wesley Charles Halstead is this year’s valedictorian at O’Connor High School. He will attend Texas A&M University and major in statistics.
The son of Amy and Woodrow Halstead attended Steubing and Wanke elementary schools and Jefferson Middle School.
He earned an O’Connor Athletic Booster Scholarship and a President’s Endowed Scholarship from Texas A&M University.
At O’Connor, he served as Class Treasurer, National Honor Society Historian, and Social Media Manager for the O’Connor Swimming Team.
“Thanks to my parents who have been supportive of me forever. Thanks to Ms. Reina, my elementary GT teacher, who always encouraged creativity. Thanks to Ms. Mohler, my middle school GT teacher, who gave me the tough love to prepare for more difficult courses. Thanks to Mr. Edwards, my Latin teacher, who has probably taught me more about life than Latin. Thanks to Coach Haidin and Coach K, my swim coaches, who always encourage me to try my hardest at everything I do. Having to balance school, sleep, and swim instilled time management skills early on. Thanks to Mr. Vetters and Mr. Westbrook, my Academic Decathlon teachers, who made one of the most brutal classes very enjoyable.”
Halstead’s most influential Northside teacher was his 11th grade statistics teacher, Michael Stanley.
“You could tell he was passionate about what he was teaching, and he made a difficult class really fun because he brought such great energy to the classroom,” Halstead said. “He was lenient with work, but always rewarded those who were responsible to finish it proactively. He is the reason I plan on majoring in statistics, but I’m still not sure why he wears orange all the time.”
Warren Joseph Burrus is this year’s salutatorian at O’Connor High School and plans to major in computer science at Baylor University to prepare for a career as a computer scientist.
The son of William and Heather Burrus also attended Nichols Elementary School and Stevenson Middle School.
He earned numerous scholarships including a President’s Gold Scholarship from Baylor University, an Invitation to Excellence Scholarship from Baylor, a Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (PREP) Scholarship to St. Mary’s University, a St. Mary’s University Trustee Scholarship, and a UT Dallas Academic Excellence Scholarship.
At O’Connor, Burrus was a veteran member of the UIL Computer Science team and an Academic Decathlon team finalist.
“NISD has provided me with counselors who have guided me through the steps to college, teachers who have prepared me for college-level material, and countless career fairs and electives that have introduced me to something I’m passionate about,” Burrus said.
His most influential teacher in Northside has been his AP U.S. History teacher Jennifer Cain.
“She was my most influential NISD teacher because I have never had a teacher more enthusiastic about teaching, or more willing to sacrifice their own time to help us learn,” Burrus said. “Every other week, Mrs. Cain would grade dozens of our notebooks, which we would write SAQs, essays, and other practice material in. She even organized a mock AP exam for AP U.S. History students, and graded each of our exams as if they were a full AP test, adding her own comments and recommendations to help us improve. And on the day of the real AP test, she even dressed up as a Founding Father to cheer us on!”
Ashley Diamond Elizondo is the 2020 valedictorian for Stevens High School. She will be attending Trinity University and plans to major in biology to prepare for a career as an anesthesiologist.
The daughter of Veronica and Roland Elizondo also attended Michael Elementary School and Vale Middle School.
She earned several scholarships including a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, United Services Automobile Association (USAA) Collegiate Scholarship, and a Trinity University Dean’s Scholarship.
“NISD has prepared me for college by providing me with all the resources necessary to become successful,” Elizondo said. “For example, if I ever had any questions or concerns that were college related, Ms. Felan, our college and career advisor, was always there to answer them and provide me with the best advice. She would also keep me informed with any scholarships that were available. She was a very valuable resource to me, and I am truly grateful to her and all the exemplary staff NISD had provided to help pave the way for my success.”
At Stevens, she served as softball representative for the Stevens Athletic Leadership Council, on the Principal’s Advisory Committee, and as a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.
She said her most influential teacher was GT/Independent Study Mentorship teacher Maria Cisneros.
“Mrs. Cisneros never gave up on me, and pushed me to be the best version of myself,” Elizondo said. “Since my freshman year she never allowed me to become complacent, and she was always someone I could count on to be there for me when I needed her.”
Allison Leanne Barker is the 2020 salutatorian for Stevens High School. She will be attending Northwest Vista College and intends to transfer to UT Health. She plans to major in biology and pre-nursing to prepare for a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
The daughter of Roger D. Barker III and Faye Laxamana Barker also attended Lewis Elementary School and Vale Middle School.
Barker earned numerous scholarships including a Jack C. Jordan Scholarship, San Antonio Education Partnership (SAEP) Scholarship, Jimmy Elizabeth Harper & Ethel Harper Scholarship, J. Kent Trinkle Scholarship, and Rapier Educational Foundation Scholarship.
At Stevens, she served as Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper “The Talon,” vice president of the S.T.E.M. Club, parliamentarian for the National Honor Society, and secretary of the Quill and Scroll Journalism Honor Society.
Barker cited two influential teachers at Stevens HS, science department coordinator Gina Austin and journalism advisor Dr. Christine Keyser-Fanick.
“Mrs. Austin taught me to trust myself and adopt a growth mindset,” Barker said. “She is truly one of, if not the, best teachers I’ve ever had, and continuously reminds me that hard work and a great attitude can help you attain your goals. I will always look up to Mrs. Austin for her work ethic, and kindness, and aspire to be as sure of myself and as genuinely good as she is.”
“Dr. Keyser-Fanick has been my rock throughout my entire high school career. I am honored to have her as a mentor and advisor, but especially so as a friend. I know I can always count on her to give me the most honest opinion, and I can only hope to be as devoted to my career and the wellbeing of others as she is.”
Hayden James Ray is this year’s valedictorian at Taft High School. He plans to attend Colorado School of Mines and major in mechanical engineering with a minor in Aeronautics.
He is the son of Jarom and Rochelle Ray and earned a Presidential Scholarship from Colorado School of Mines.
Ray played on the Taft varsity soccer team for three years.
He said his eleventh grade UT OnRamps physics teacher, Lauren Malik, was his most influential teacher.
“She taught me that no matter how hard any subject may be, with enough hard work and determination it can be understood.”
“NISD has helped me prepare for college through many advanced courses such as OnRamps and Advanced Placement classes along with courses such as ISM (Independent Study Mentorship), which allowed me to get a much better idea of what my future career will look like and what strategies I can use in the future,” Ray said.
Savannah Abigail Hill is the 2020 salutatorian at Taft High School. She will attend Lindenwood University and major in graphic design to prepare for a career as a graphic designer.
Lisa and Curtis Hill also attended Knowlton Elementary School and Zachry Middle School.
She earned a Sibley Scholarship from Lindenwood University.
At Taft, she prepared for college and her future career by taking Advanced Placement and OnRamps courses along with participating in Independent Study Mentorship.
“My experience in Independent Study Mentorship in particular has allowed me to gain a wide range of experience and knowledge within graphic design, while giving me class time to apply to colleges and scholarships,” Hill said.
She said her most influential teacher was Delaney Juarez at Taft High School. “She’s simply an amazing teacher and her English 3 AP class allowed me to get back into writing and improve on my short fiction and poetry.”
Jacob Daniel Eguia is the 2020 valedictorian at Warren High School and plans to major in mathematics at Rice University to prepare for a future career as a mathematician.
He earned a Quest Bridge National Match Scholarship.
Drucilla and Daniel Eguia also attended Elrod Elementary School and Connally Middle School.
At Warren, he served as president of the Latin Club.
His most influential teacher was Warren calculus teacher Walter Meyer.
“Besides being a top tier teacher that has teaching AP calculus down to a science, Mr. Meyer helped me out a ton during the college admissions process, writing letters of recommendation, providing SAT tutoring, and stellar advice about college in general,” Eguia said. “His support was an integral part of me receiving my scholarship, which I’ll always be grateful for.”
“I’d also like to thank my Latin teacher, Mr. Castillo, for sticking with me for the four years that I had him. Mr. Castillo was the first teacher I really opened up to and I feel that it was because I was in his class that I was really able to start coming out of my shell.”
Marissa Olga Coppin is the 2020 salutatorian at Warren High School and plans to major in biology (pre-medicine) at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her future career aspiration is to become a physician in either the orthopedic field or cardiology.
The daughter of Emily and David Coppin also attended Evers Elementary School and Jordan Middle School.
She was named a Top Scholar at UTSA, an ESTEEMED Research Scholar, and earned a Puerto Rican Heritage Scholarship.
Coppin served in many leadership roles at Warren HS including team leader for Athletic Training, president of the Future Physicians Club, MAPSS AP social studies mentor, class vice president, and secretary of Mu Alpha Theta.
“I would like to thank all teachers and staff that have contributed to my success over the years, especially Leah Melonas, or Coach Melonas as I refer to her, the head athletic trainer at Earl Warren High School,” Coppin said. “Coach Melonas has shaped me into a leader in the athletic training program for four years, taking me under her wing and letting me spread my wings and soar when the time was right. The leadership skills and compassion for injured athletes that I learned from her are priceless and I will take them into the next phase of my academic career and beyond.”
Her most influential Northside teacher was Warren HS calculus teacher Walter Meyer.
“His energetic presence made me excited to learn a rather difficult subject every single day,” Coppin said. “Mr. Meyer always showed his support and belief in me and that is something that I will never forget.”