We are pleased to feature our high school valedictorians and salutatorians for this year.
Brandeis High School
Anne Rong Fu, the valedictorian for Brandeis High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin and major in Biology. She plans to pursue a career in a health profession.
The daughter of Xiaojing Xu and Jianmin Fu also attended Carson Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
During her time at Brandeis, she served as Latin Club Secretary, Ocean Bowl Team Captain, Science Bowl Team Captain, and Outreach Manager for the robotics team Clash of Coders.
“Northside ISD has constantly supported me throughout my education, teaching me life lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life,” Fu said. “It has taught me to become independent and to have confidence in my strengths, yet acknowledge my shortcomings. Rather than constantly rely on the adults around me to tell me what to do, I have to take charge of my decisions and come to my own conclusions.”
Fu said her most influential teacher was Latin Teacher Erik Robinson.
“He has taught me Latin all four years of high school and he has become someone whom I respect as a mentor and cherish as a friend,” Fu said. “His class became a second home for me as he gave me the space to relax and de-stress from other courses while still engraining Latin into my brain in a fun and fresh way.”
Joyce Jiayin Huang, the salutatorian for Brandeis High School, will attend The University of Texas at Austin and enter the Canfield Business Honors Program. She plans to pursue a career as a business consultant.
The daughter of Liangdong Huang and Baoxia Liu also attended Beard Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
She earned a United States Automobile Association (USAA) Employee Dependent Scholarship and Helotes Festival Association Scholarship.
At Brandeis, she served as National Honor Society President, President of the Class of 2021, Manager of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Team Clash of Coders, Latin Club Co-Consul, and Summit Youth Leadership Club (SYLC) National Vice President.
Huang also cites Latin teacher Erik Robinson as her most influential teacher in Northside.
“Mr. Robinson, my Latin teacher for the past four years and my Art History teacher for senior year, has made learning incredibly fun and memorable through his interactive teaching tactics and unique applications of curriculum, helping me, with a smiling heart, develop my natural curiosity and passion for learning,” Huang said. “He has taught me not only about the subjunctive mood or the characteristics of Tlatilco figures but also about the importance of patience, generosity, and compassion.”
“I would like to thank my parents and my younger brother, James, for supporting me since the beginning. I would also like to give a special thanks to my NISD teachers Barb Hollimon, Teri Jacob, Malena Weil, Jana Marthis, Regenna Mendoza, Justin Binks, Lisa Braddam, and Kristen Gunter for inspiring me in my endeavors both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Brennan High School
Haya Abdel Kareem Abdelaziz is the 2021 valedictorian at Brennan High School. She plans to major in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio in preparation for a career as a mechanical engineer.
“NISD has prepared me for future careers through their architectural and construction classes,” Abdelaziz said. “These classes allowed me to be hands on and develop teamwork, communications, and leadership skills. If it wasn’t for these classes, I would not have found my passion for engineering.”
The daughter of Abdalkarim and Andira Abdelaziz also attended Adams Hill and Ott elementary schools and Luna Middle School. She earned multiple scholarships – a Distinguished Presidential Scholarship, Pi Longhorn Leaders Scholarship, a Top 10% Scholarship, and a Gateway Scholarship.
At Brennan, she served as Class President, Student Council President and National Honor Society Treasurer.
Her most influential teacher in NISD was her freshman English teacher at Brennan, Valerie Enriquez.
“I always looked forward to going to her class because it was a nonjudgmental area where all students could be themselves,” said Abdelaziz. “Ms. Enriquez saw the bright side and had faith in all her students. She always encouraged me to shoot for the moon when I didn’t want to take risks in fear of failure. She saw the potential in me, and she would not allow me to settle for less. Ms. Enriquez pushed me to continue even when I was at rock bottom and wanted to give up. She was the light that guided me on my darkest days, and I don’t know how I could ever repay her.”
Emmalee Nicole Wood is the 2021 salutatorian at Brennan High School. She plans to attend West Texas A&M University and major in mechanical or civil engineering in preparation for a career as an engineer.
The daughter of Jean Konieczny and Daniel Konieczny also attended Ward Elementary School, Jefferson and Briscoe middle schools, and Health Careers, Communications Arts, and Taft high schools. She earned a Vulcan Materials Company: WOAI Scholar Athlete of the Year scholarship and Division 2 Athletic Scholarship for soccer.
At Brennan, she was the Varsity Girls Soccer Team Captain.
Wood could not pick just one influential teacher.
“I have had the most amazing teachers in all of my NISD schools, but there are three that stood out above the rest,” Wood said. “Coach John Cedio taught me 7th and 8th grade history at Briscoe. He helped us to become immersed into the history by writing history rap songs and singing along with Hamilton. Coach always had some fun tricks up his sleeves so we looked forward to his class. He deeply cares for each and every one of his students.”
“Though the year was cut short, Sean Callihan and Mike Owen made a lasting impact on me as well. Sean Callihan was my U.S. History teacher at Brennan. Mr. Callihan inspired us, joked with us, and did fun things to keep us engaged and learning. I was welcome to visit him when I needed his support and his wisdom in class, soccer, or life in general.”
“Mike Owen was my Physics teacher at Brennan. He was like a grandfather to me. Many who knew him understood that he loved to tell his stories in class and he always had a new story. Sometimes they were lessons, sometimes physics related, and other times they were funny stories like throwing wet toilet paper wads on cars. Those stories and memories of him will live on through his students as we use them for life lessons.”
“All three of these teachers have truly changed my life for the better and helped to make me who I am today. I aspire to use their life lessons and personalities in my own life so I may impact others around me like they did.”
Business Careers High School
Joshua Michael Gutierrez, the valedictorian at Business Careers High School, will attend the University of Texas at San Antonio and major in cybersecurity. He plans to pursue a career as a dual threat cyber security analyst.
He earned a UTSA Distinguished Presidential Scholarship. The son of Sandra Padilla Gutierrez and Oscar Gutierrez also attended Northwest Crossing Elementary School and Zachry Middle School.
At Business Careers, he spent three years as the Cyber-Patriot Team Captain, served as the Business Careers High School Academy Board Counselor for the Information Technology Strand, NSITE Representative, First Chair Viola in Orchestra, and Business/Marketing Manager in photojournalism.
He cites two influential NISD teachers – Lilliana Cavazos, orchestra teacher at Zachry MS, and Juan Gerrero, a former Business Careers teacher.
“She is one of my influential teachers because she provided me the opportunity to learn a new instrument, the viola, which I still play today,” Gutierrez said. “Not only did she provide those music skills, she was also one of the “unique” teachers I have had due to her skill at connecting with other students. Some teachers don’t make the effort to connect on a personal level, but Mrs. Cavazos did, calling us alumni and students her ‘bebes.’”
“Juan Guerrero pivoted me to my future career. When I joined high school, I thought I was going to pursue something entirely different than Cyber Security. I thought I was going to pursue something related to tech support. He made me realize that Cyber Security was my passion and really extended his hand to allow me to begin climbing the levels. He introduced me to certifications, in which, I gladly accepted. Even after he left NISD, I still keep in touch with him on a mentoring basis. He really has inspired me to move forward in my career and become a successful person.”
Kyle Gabriel Soto, the salutatorian at Business Careers High School, plans to attend the University of Notre Dame where he will study business. His future career goal is to be a Cryptocurrency Developer/Programmer.
The son of Jesus and Yvette Soto also attended Scarborough Elementary School and Folks Middle School.
He received a Baylor University Provost’s Scholarship.
Soto said his most influential teacher was his Holmes HS basketball coach John Vargas.
“Ever since my first year, Coach Vargas always believed in me,” Soto said. “I may not have been the best basketball player, but he always appreciated my drive to succeed, intelligence, and academic abilities. I could tell that I reminded him of himself as a young man, even though we have tremendously different backgrounds. I know that Coach Vargas didn’t have it easy in life, but despite that, he fought the odds and chose to succeed regardless. That fact led me to always have a tremendous level of respect for Coach Vargas, which has only grown to this day. I have always had an insatiable desire to succeed, but the adversity that Coach Vargas faced only further proved to myself that I needed to work even harder, and that I had absolutely no right to complain about anything. On top of this, Coach Vargas has always shown immense appreciation for the things I have done for him, as well as the entire Holmes basketball program. I have always made it my mission to never let someone down when they need me and to always be someone others can rely on, and Coach Vargas has consistently shown that my efforts were at all times appreciated. Words truly cannot give justice to the impact Coach Vargas has had on my life.”
Clark High School
Alexander James Zurovec is this year’s valedictorian at Clark High School. He will attend Harvard University and major in Economics (Behavioral) and Global Health and Health Policy with a goal to become a future physician or healthcare administrator.
The son of Leini and Mark Zurovec also attended Blattman Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School. He earned a Trinity University Murchison Scholarship.
Zurovec was a leader inside and outside the Clark HS campus serving as Vice President of Science NHS and expanding science demonstrations for special needs students; a School Ambassador for the Goethe-Institute, traveling to Loyola University in Chicago to learn about sustainable practices to bring back to Clark; Service Lead in Central Checkout for H-E-B throughout the pandemic, working up to 40 hours a week; and the Project Coordination Intern for a local nonprofit, Students of Service (SOS), where he guided young high school students through volunteer initiative projects.
Zurovec said his influential teacher was his English AP teacher, Kimberly Dill.
“She gifted me the art of English,” Zurovec said. “She brought out a literary side of me that I never thought even existed (English truly had always been my least favorite subject until her class) and taught me the beautiful art of writing and expressing my emotions. In helping deconstruct my writing before school, after school, during Flex, or after class, she granted a newfound pride in my work. Not only that, but she was an amazing friend and someone to talk to. From keeping her virtual Zoom meetings open to venturing into her classroom during Flex when I resumed in-person learning, she gave me an outlet and support system. Her support, encouragement, tenacity in teaching, and belief in me has truly made me into who I am today.”
Cristian Michael Colon 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 have a career within the field of microelectronics.
He is the son of Bonita Swisher and Jose Colon and also attended Locke Hill Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School.
Colon earned a President’s Endowed Scholarship from Texas A&M University. At Clark, he served as Science National Honor Society treasurer.
His most influential teacher in Northside is Clark Latin teacher William Lee.
“I think the biggest part of Mr. Lee’s appeal is the enthusiasm and passion he brings to the classroom every day,” Colon said. “He’s always devising new activities to teach us about the language and the lives of the ancient Romans, breathing life into a civilization that has been long dead. He’s managed to impart within me a genuine love and appreciation for the classics, one that will stick with me for the rest of my life. He’s also managed to build up a real community, both within his Latin classes and the Latin Club. Through these spaces, he has inspired me to put forth my best effort into every endeavor I pursue, and taught me the importance of integrity in my work. I cannot thank him enough for the lessons that I have learned and for the ways that he has changed my life.”
Communications Arts High School
Danielle Marie Bell is the 2021 valedictorian of Communications Arts High School. She plans to attend The University of Texas at Dallas and major in neuroscience to prepare for a career as a neurologist.
The daughter of Christopher and Veronica Bell also attended Galm Elementary School and Luna Middle School. She earned a Minnie Piper Stevens Piper Scholar Award.
“By attending a college preparatory high school like Comm Arts, I feel more adequately prepared to face the workload of college courses, as well as be a more well-rounded individual,” Bell said.
She chose Jarrod Jarvis, her sixth and seventh grade Language Arts teacher as her most influential Northside teacher.
“Mr. Jarvis instilled in me the value of holding myself to a higher standard and as he often said, ‘resist the urge to think you're the exception.’"
Pooja Nair Kormath is the 2021 salutatorian of Communications Arts High School. She plans to major in biology at The University of Texas at Austin and prepare for a career as a physician.
She is the daughter of Jay Kormath and Saraswathi Nair and also attended Briscoe Middle School. She earned a Jack C. Jordan Scholarship, The University of Texas at San Antonio Distinguished Presidential Scholarship, and Baylor University Provost's Scholarship.
She said her most influential teacher was her 10th grade Digital and Interactive Media teacher Jill Barton.
“To me, Mrs. Barton is the epitome of a teacher,” Kormath said. “She genuinely cares for her students, both in and out of the classroom, and makes her class a safe space for everyone. I’ve always admired how Mrs. Barton fosters a creative passion within all of her students, and I’m truly grateful for that. Her simple, yet wise, pieces of advice have carried me through all my trials and tribulations throughout high school, and I’m sure that they’ll motivate me throughout the rest of my endeavors in life.”
“I want to thank my family and friends for always believing in me, even if I didn't believe in myself. I would also like to thank every teacher I’ve had throughout my schooling so far. Every single one of them has instilled a drive within me to do better and be better every day and I truly can’t thank them enough for that.”
Construction Careers Academy
Olivia Simone Salinas is the 2021 valedictorian for Construction Careers Academy (CCA). She plans to attend The University of Houston and major in architecture to prepare for a career as an architect.
The daughter of Valerie and Reggie Salinas also attended Helotes Elementary School and Folks Middle School. She earned multiple scholarships including a University of Houston Academic Excellence Scholarship, a University of Houston Honors College Scholarship, CMiC Allen Berg Memorial Scholarship, ACE-SA College Scholarship, and Order of the Sons of Italy: Pompeo Coppini Lodge Scholarship.
She served as SkillsUSA Texas State President and at CCA as the National Honor Society First Vice President, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society Vice President, Art National Honor Society President, and Construction Careers Academy Principal’s Cabinet Secretary.
“Through the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentorship program, I have become confident going into a competitive career field,” Salinas said. “All of the mentors have contributed to the growth of my architectural drafting and public speaking skills. This opportunity, along with my membership in SkillsUSA, was afforded to me through Construction Careers Academy, a magnet school that values its students more than anything else. My school has become a home to me, with dedicated teachers and enthusiastic administration. Becoming Valedictorian was a collective effort among my family, my school, and myself. I thank everyone who pushed me to be an even better student and leader.”
She cites her older sister Sophia for being her role model as she navigated high school. Her most influential Northside teacher was her architecture teacher Robert Gonzalez.
“Mr. Gonzalez is one of my most influential teachers because he helped set my expectations for my desired career field and offered a plethora of career-readiness opportunities,” Salinas said. “Mr. Gonzalez always told us that “you could be the best architect ever, but if you can’t present your ideas, you’ll never be successful.” This emphasis on personal skills and job-specific skills made me determined to constantly practice my leadership and trade.”
Kevin Miguel Muniz Perez is the 2021 salutatorian for Construction Careers Academy (CCA). He plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in architectural engineering to prepare for a career as an electrical and lighting systems specialist.
The son of Tahiri Melissa Perez Figueroa and Elvin Miguel Muniz Bonilla also attended Bernal Middle School. He earned a Corps of Cadets Scholarship and Air Force ROTC Type 7 Scholarship. At CCA, he was an Electrical Simulator Team Leader.
“I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity and ability to go through high school with so much academic success,” Perez said. “I also want to thank my family and my friends (they know who they are) for their undying support, encouragement, and the good times. Lastly, thank you to my teachers. Even though they teased me a lot, they all gave me valuable advice on life that I’ll keep in mind through college. They truly helped make high school an enjoyable experience.
I already miss high school if I’m honest. It’s going to be hard leaving it all behind, but we all have our goals and aspirations which is what we should keep in mind as we graduate.”
His most influential teacher is CCA teacher Armando Orta.
“Mr. Orta has been my most influential teacher because his teachings are a huge reason for my passion for the construction industry,” Perez said. “Electrical wiring has been a huge gateway for the career path I intend to pursue; for three years, through competition and small talk, Mr. Orta slowly helped build up my interest to pursue a research career in the industry.”
Harlan High School
Oluwapelumi Odunayo Maria Dunmoye is the 2021 valedictorian of Harlan High School. She plans to major in sociology at Harvard University. Her future career goal is to become a human rights lawyer.
The daughter of Michael and Abimbola Dunmoye earned a Harvard Faculty Scholarship.
At Harlan, she served as Student Council Vice President, Spanish National Honor Society President, and was the Founder of Chosen Generation, a Harlan Christian Youth Group.
“In the short time I have been in the NISD, I have had the opportunity to take classes that have helped me to realize what I want to pursue in the future,” Dunmoye said. “For instance, during this school year I had the privilege of taking ISM, a mentorship class where I was mentored by someone within a field I am interested in. This opportunity solidified my desire to go into the field of human rights defense and protection. This program was so fulfilling and enriching and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.”
Her most influential NISD teacher is Sandra Figueroa, GT teacher at Harlan HS.
“Mrs. Fig has been so dedicated to being there for me both in terms of academics and my well-being,” Dunmoye said. “She has not only given me amazing advice and encouragement but has also gone out of her way to help me whenever I needed it. She even aided me in starting a club at school despite her busy schedule. This is just one example of how much she cares for her students. I will always remember Mrs. Fig as someone who is passionate about what she does and for blessing anyone who happens to cross her path.”
Zander Rene Vasquez is the 2021 salutatorian of Harlan High School. He plans to major in psychology at The University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career as a clinical psychologist.
He is the son of Rose and Christopher Vasquez and also attended Langley Elementary School and Bernal Middle School.
His scholarships include a Héctor Méndez Scholarship, a University of Washington Purple and Gold Scholar, and a University of Texas (UT) Award.
At Harlan, he served as National Honor Society Historian and Société Honoraire de Français Historian.
He cited Harlan AP Biology and Environmental Science teacher Danielle Dylinski as his most influential teacher.
“She is a teacher who deeply cares about students and goes above and beyond the curriculum in order to make sure that no kid is left behind,” Vasquez said. “She inspires me through her teaching to be a better version of myself and a kinder person. She treats all her students with the utmost respect and talks to each and every student as an equal, which is such an amazing way to approach teaching. I will always remember the impact she has had on my life and I am the luckiest kid in the world to be able to have called her my teacher for not one but two years.”
“I would also like to thank Robert Green and Florencia Caniglia from my time at Langley Elementary School, Kori Reininger and Zinnia Bayardo from my time at Bernal Middle School, and Madeline Frazier and Brad Peace from my time at Harlan High School. Finally, I would like to thank my mother and father for allowing me the privilege to focus solely on my education for these past four years.”
Health Careers High School
Izumi Haruko Vazquez is the 2021 valedictorian of Health Careers High School and will be attending Harvard University. She plans to major in human biology in preparation for a career as a pediatric oncologist. She hopes to actively work to combat health disparities in medically underserved areas.
She is the daughter of Luis Vazquez and Yoko Onuki and also attended Rhodes Elementary School and Rudder Middle School.
“I’d like to thank my parents for immigrating from Mexico to invest in my future by providing my sister and me with better opportunities in life than they had,” Vasquez said. “I also want to thank my sister, Ayumi, for being my role model, eternal cheerleader, and best friend – I don’t know what I would do without her.”
She earned Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship, Rice University Trustee Distinguished Scholarship, Emory University Liberal Arts Scholarship, Northeastern National Recognition Program Scholarship, and Case Western Reserve University Scholarship.
At Health Careers, she served as HOSA Chapter President, Mu Alpha Theta Historian, Spanish National Honor Society Activities Coordinator, and Phoenix Connect Mentor Leader.
Her most influential teacher in Northside was her Spanish teacher Edmond Tejeda.
“Beyond just accents and Spanish vocabulary, Mr. Tejeda has taught me how to be a compassionate person,” Vazquez said. “To me and many other students, he is someone we feel comfortable going to for advice and can always share a laugh with. To say he is generous would be an understatement. He shows up early, stays late, and does everything within his power to ensure that his classroom is a welcoming home for all who enter—staff, faculty, and students alike. He encourages me to believe in my abilities, seeing in me what I sometimes fail to see in myself. I cannot thank him enough for being the educator—and role model—that he is.”
Lindsey Feifei Ran is the 2021 salutatorian of Health Careers High School. She plans to major in neuroscience at Rice University to prepare for a career as a physician.
The daughter of Qitao Ran and Ren Na also attended Beard Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
At Health Careers, she served as President of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA club), President of Mu Alpha Theta, and Latin Club Greek Life and Literature Category Leader.
“Health Careers' wide variety of classes and clubs has given me the opportunity to discover subjects that I would love to pursue in college,” Raid said. “Additionally, all the resources and help from the teachers and counselors have prepared me with informed expectations about college.”
Her most influential teacher was Health Careers Latin teacher John Chu.
“He taught me for nearly all four years of high school at Health Careers, and I'm extremely grateful for his continuous support,” Ran said. “His classroom was a place where I always knew I could go for help, and my friends and I enjoyed joking around and talking to Mr. Chu during Latin Club and on the frequent bus rides to competitions.”
Holmes High School
Ana Hernández Guerra is this year’s valedictorian from Holmes High School and plans to attend St. Mary’s University. She will major in psychology to prepare for a career as a therapist.
The daughter of Ruben Hernandez and Abril Guerra also attended Esparza Elementary School and Neff Middle School. She earned a Gateway Scholarship and AIDE Account Scholarship.
At Holmes, she was President of the Spanish National Honor Society, Interact Club, and Spanish Club. She was also part of the AVID program, an academic support program which stands for Advancement via Individual Determination.
“NISD offers the AVID program to all students, and this program helped me to stay on track all through high school teaching me the steps and requirements to get to college,” Hernández said. “Also, the teachers of this program provided me with support and kindness with whatever I was struggling with all throughout high school.”
Her most influential teacher was Holmes Spanish teacher Elena Chambers.
“I had her as my teacher for the first three years of high school and throughout these years she took care of me and helped me realize all the potential I had within me,” Hernández said. “She is an amazing teacher who is truly passionate about what she does and loves every single one of her students.”
Isabella Rose Alvarado is this year’s salutatorian from Holmes High School. She plans to study biology at Baylor University.
The daughter of Leticia and Robert Alvarado also attended Glass Elementary School and Neff Middle School. She earned a Deans’ Scholarship from Baylor University, Faculty Scholarship from Texas Christian University, and Presidential Scholarship from the University of Incarnate Word.
At Holmes, she served as Captain of the Goldenbelles dance team and a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and AVID program.
“NISD has provided me with a supportive network of staff and has given me the opportunity to take higher-level courses that will help the transition into college run more smoothly,” Alvarado said.
Her most influential teacher was Monica Yzaguirre, her AVID teacher.
“Mrs. Y is one of the most selfless people I have ever met and has taught me to always have faith in myself,” Alvarado said. “Her unconditional love toward all of her students makes a lasting impact and she pushes us to see our true potential. I am really grateful to have had the honor of being one of her students.”
Jay High School
Daisy Crystal Neri is the 2021 valedictorian from Jay High School and plans to study pharmacy technology at Northwest Vista College to prepare for a career as a pharmacy tech.
The daughter of Margarita and Jose Neri also attended Westwood Terrace Elementary School and Jones Middle School.
“Northside has prepared me for college and a career by placing me in rigorous classes that have helped me learn how to study properly and manage my classes,” Neri said.
Jay High School teacher Elaine Asbell had a huge influence on Neri.
“She helped me break out of my shell and helped me participate in fun volunteer work,” Neri said. “Thank you to my parents, teachers, and friends who expect the best in me.”
Maria Del Carmen Salazar Murillo is the 2021 salutatorian from Jay High School and plans to attend Northwest Vista College. She will study nursing to prepare for a career as a nurse.
The daughter of Maria and Francisco Salazar also attended Cable Elementary School and Jones Middle School.
“Northside ISD has given me the opportunity to grow up with the passion of education and self-improvement to continue reaching for higher education and life goals,” Murillo said.
Jeffrey Vela, her 11th grade teacher at Jay, was her most influential teacher.
“Mr. Vela showed me the importance of responsibility and the impact each individual holds in a group,” Murillo said. “He created an environment in the classroom that allowed students to flourish into their individual selves while maintaining their wholesome relationship as classmates.”
Jay Science and Engineering Academy
Chloe Aviana Boerner-Martinez is the 2021 valedictorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy and plans to major in architectural engineering at Texas A&M University to prepare for a career as an architectural engineer.
The daughter of Monica Boerner also attended Kuentz and Steubing elementary schools and Folks Middle School.
She earned a Jack C. Jordan Scholarship, Minnie Stevens Piper Scholarship, Texas A&M University President’s Achievement Scholarship, University of the Incarnate Word Presidential Scholarship, and St. Mary’s University Gateway Scholarship.
She served as National Honor Society Chapter Historian and Director of Ceremonies; Architecture Construction Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program Structural Project Manager; and STEM Fest Math Director.
“Northside ISD has provided the opportunity to challenge myself through participation in a magnet school that focused on engineering and required me to take advanced placement courses,” Boerner-Martinez said. “My engineering, math, art, and architecture teachers encouraged me to reach my goals and meet high standards.”
Boerner-Martinez said Clayton Kilduff, her art teacher at Folks MS, was her most influential teacher.
“Mr. Kilduff created a motivational and often humorous environment during art class,” Boerner-Martinez said. “I enjoyed my studio time with Mr. Kilduff so much that I went to school an hour early each morning to work on projects. He was patient and a great listener, even when we talked about topics outside the realm of art. I was deemed his “evil apprentice,” as he influenced me to be unafraid to fail. Most of all, Mr. Kilduff allowed me to be myself and to make my creative visions into a reality. I was a very shy kid, and he was the first to instill pride and confidence, starting me on my journey to believe I could succeed and that my voice mattered. Due to his influence, art has served as a healthy stress reliever throughout high school. Thanks to Mr. Kilduff, art has also become a passion and now an integral portion of a career I am aiming to pursue.”
Nolan Pierce Clemons is the 2021 salutatorian from the Jay Science and Engineering Academy. He plans to study physics at the University of Texas at Austin. His future career aspiration is to become a physicist.
He is the son of Noel and Carrie Clemons and attended Hoffmann Elementary School and Briscoe Middle School.
Clemons served as French horn section leader in the Mustang Band.
“NISD has helped me to prepare for college and careers by teaching me to work with others, and to always put my all into everything I do,” Clemons said.
His most influential Northside teacher was at the Science and Engineering Academy.
“Gilbert Huizar (was the most influential) for showing me many of the nuances in even just basic physics,” Clemons said.
Marshall High School
Ashley Trista Pattie is the 2021 Marshall High School valedictorian and plans to enter the Business Honors program at The University of Texas at Austin. Her career aspiration is to become an orthodontist and open her own practice or pursue another form of entrepreneurship.
The daughter of Clint and Kelly Pattie also attended Leon Valley Elementary School and Connally Middle School. She earned several scholarships including a Canfield Business Honors Program Full-Tuition Scholarship, iGniTe Scholarship, Jack C. Jordan Scholarship, and Spanish Honor Society Senior Scholarship.
“Throughout my entire academic career, Northside ISD has provided me with the most excellent and dedicated educators,” Pattie said. “Through the Gifted and Talented Program and Independent Study Mentorship, I have further developed my creativity, strengthened my communication and leadership skills, and established a work ethic that will continue to bring me success in college, in my career, and even in my personal life.”
She held several leadership positions at Marshall including Spanish Honor Society Vice President, Science National Honor Society Officer, Choir Officer, and she was a member of the Academic Decathlon team.
Pattie cited Ismael Lopez, math teacher at Marshall High School, as her most influential teacher.
“Mr. Lopez is more than just an exceptional teacher,” Pattie said. “He is a mentor, a friend, and a second father to dozens of students, including myself. The most valuable lesson I have learned from Mr. Lopez is that “you must give up who you are for who you will become.” His heart of gold, abundance of wisdom, and dry humor are what makes him a truly extraordinary educator.”
Jenna Michelle Schmitz is the 2021 Marshall High School salutatorian. She will attend The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in pre-athletic training. Her career aspiration is to become a physical therapist.
The daughter of Joel and Linda Schmitz attended Carson Elementary School and Stevenson Middle School.
She earned multiple scholarships including a Baumberger Endowment Scholarship, Spanish Honor Society Scholarship, Distinguished Presidential Scholarship from UTSA, Green and Gold Scholarship from Colorado State University, and a Peak Scholarship from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
At Marshall, she was the Class of 2021 Social Media Manager and Secretary and a member of the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and the English Society of High School Scholars.
She also spent four years as a competitive diver for Marshall’s varsity diving team. She is the 2021 Diving District Champion, won 3rd Place at Diving Regionals, and was a member of the Northside Diving Academy Club.
Her most influential NISD teacher was Ruben Peña, her GT Leadership and Independent Study Mentorship teacher at Marshall.
“Mr. Peña helped me grow as a person and helped me feel at home from the very beginning,” Schmitz said. “As a young freshman, I remember being intimidated by how big and foreign Marshall felt to me, so his classroom has always been a sanctuary for me from the first time I walked through his door. I always knew I would be welcome in his classroom, and I appreciate how much he has pushed me to become a more responsible, independent young adult throughout the years.”
O’Connor High School
Adriana Delagarza is this year’s valedictorian at O’Connor High School. She will attend Columbia University and major in mechanical or electrical engineering.
The daughter of Margarita and Francisco Delagarza attended Beard and Helotes elementary schools and Hector Garcia Middle School.
She earned a Trustee Distinguished Scholarship from Rice University, Hodson-Gilliam Success Award from Johns Hopkins University, Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards Gold Award in Technology, National Honor Society Scholarship, and Jack C. Jordan Scholarship.
At O’Connor, she served as President of Mu Alpha Theta, Founder of Meditative Study, President of Environmental Club, Vice President of Alpha Gamma Tau, and Panther Pals Coordinator for National Honor Society.
“The GT program, especially in high school (shout-out to Mrs. Sweitzer!), pushed me to be more responsible with my time and helped me to acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses in the classroom and as a leader in my community,” Delagarza said.
Delagarza’s most influential Northside teacher was Caron Corum, her 6th Grade GT English Language Arts teacher at Hector Garcia Middle School.
“Mrs. Corum made English exciting,” Delagarza said. “We read so many great books in her class, but the best part was that she was also excited to read some of our favorite books in her own time. She recognized our strengths and made us feel like individuals, which really helped me grow into a more independent and creative person.”
Austin Lawrence Seitz is this year’s salutatorian at O’Connor High School and plans to major in engineering at Texas A&M University to prepare for a career in petroleum or aerospace engineering.
The son of Renee Cadena and Jeffrey Seitz also attended Helotes Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
He earned a Lechner Scholarship and served as National Honor Society Historian at O’Connor.
His most influential teacher in Northside was Isaac Esquivel, science teacher at Hector Garcia MS.
“Mr. Esquivel got me into the Garden Club, which was one of my favorite clubs I’ve been in,” Seitz said. “Being in the club taught me a lot and had a noticeable impact on the school grounds.”
“I’d also like to thank Jacob Schindler (O’Connor student) for encouraging me to care about my grades in high school and Tiffany Sweitzer (O’Connor GT teacher) who has taught me longer than any other teacher and instructed ISM, which is probably the most important classes I’ve taken.”
Stevens High School
Erica Marlene Vaquera is the 2021 valedictorian for Stevens High School. She will be attending The University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in psychology to prepare for a career as a psychiatrist.
The daughter of Donalyn and Gonzalo Vaquera also attended Lewis Elementary School and Vale Middle School.
She earned a Texas Excellence Scholarship from UT Austin. At Stevens, she served as President and Vice President of Texas Future Music Educators (TFME), Vice President of Administrative Services on the Orchestra Council, and as Cello Section Leader in Orchestra.
“Northside provided me with many opportunities to earn college credit by taking college level courses in high school,” Vaquera said. “Taking advanced classes helped me develop a good work ethic and study skills that I can take with me to college.”
She said her most influential teacher was her AP World History teacher at Stevens.
“My most influential teacher was John Behnke whose class was always interesting and who brought history to life,” Vaquera said. “He encouraged me to come out of my shell and always offered support to students who needed it.”
Clara Lynn Sobery is the 2021 salutatorian for Stevens High School. She will be attending St. Mary’s University and plans to major in physics and mathematics to prepare for a career as an Astrophysicist/Astronomer.
The daughter of Angela Christine and John Patrick Sobery also attended Hatchett Elementary School and Pease Middle School.
“Northside has prepared me for college from the significant amount of dual credit, Advanced Placement, and OnRamps courses they offer,” Sobery said. “Also, the advanced academic encouragement of having the opportunities to take and participate in higher-level courses throughout my schooling has allowed me to advance into college with most of my first-year courses done. The rigor and support from passionate teachers helped prepare me for my future in college and eventually a career.”
She earned a Gateway Scholarship and Pre-freshman Engineering Program Scholarship. At Stevens, she was President of BookWormz Anonymous Book Club.
Sobery’s most influential teacher was Robert Burleson, her Gifted and Talented teacher at Hatchett ES.
“Mr. Burleson opened the doors for different opportunities in the STEM fields for me,” Sobery said. “The curriculum lessons that were different from your average math and English subjects allowed for a greater learning experience early on in my life that helped guide my passions in STEM. Learning about space exploration, ancient civilizations, genetics analysis, and the historical advancements in technology we have progressed through our society provided a bigger picture for my future academic career. Mr. Burleson taught research and public speaking to us at a young age with high expectations to prepare us for our world outside of school. His rigorous work helped mold me into who I am today by creating goals for myself, raising my expectations to be better, to excel in academia, and to always want to learn more.”
Taft High School
Josiah Elias Cooperwood is this year’s valedictorian at Taft High School. He plans to attend The University of Alabama and major in biology to prepare for a future career as a cardiologist.
He is the son of Joshua and Minerva Cooperwood and also attended Hoffmann, Mireles, and Ward elementary schools and Briscoe Middle School.
He earned numerous scholarships including a Provost’s Scholarship from Baylor University, Presidential Merit Scholarship from Texas Tech University, National Recognition Scholarship from Texas A&M University, and a National Recognition Package from the University of Alabama.
At Taft, Cooperwood served as National Honor Society President, Spanish Club President, Tuba Section Leader, and Assistant Drum Major and Head Drum Major of the Raider Band.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank God because without Him, none of this would be possible,” Cooperwood said. “Secondly, I’d like to thank my parents for the principles and standards they instilled in my life from early childhood to even now. Without their continuous push for me to be better, I would have never gained the drive to accomplish all that I have today. Further, thank you mom and dad for always being my foundation of love and support through both the good times of high rising success and through the storms of failure and distress. Finally, I’d like to thank all my teachers and school staff who truly helped me along the path of my education and cared for my ultimate success. Though 2020 has put a great deal of pressure on teachers nationwide, I am eternally grateful for their daily sacrifices and strong ability to persevere through these adverse circumstances.”
He said his most influential teachers were his Mireles elementary school GT teacher Katherine Hitchman and fifth grade teacher Migdalia Powers.
“They were the first teachers to truly see my underlying potential and challenge my capabilities,” Cooperwood said. “Despite my occasional unwillingness to be challenged, they continuously remained present as my academic support system and pushed me to be the best version of myself. Ultimately, without their faith in me at such an early age, this accomplishment of mine would not have been possible.”
Kaleb Mario Cintron is the 2021 salutatorian at Taft High School. He will be joining the United States Air Force.
The son of Mario and Yadira Cintron also attended Jefferson Middle School.
At Taft, Cintron was a member of the baseball team.
“Northside has prepared me for my future career by creating a safe environment for me to mature and develop as a young person who wants to seek for his best in life,” Cintron said.
He said his most influential teacher was Randall Schwarz, Pre-Calculus teacher at Taft High School.
“He was my most influential teacher because he’s someone who's able to lift the moods of others no matter how they’re feeling that day,” Cintron said. “There was never a dull moment in his class, and for that, he’s the most influential teacher.”
Warren High School
Alexander Kim Garner is the 2021 valedictorian at Warren High School and plans to attend The University of Texas in Austin and major in biology (pre-medical) to prepare for a future career as an anesthesiologist.
The son of Sam Garner and Hanh Bui also attended Raba Elementary School and Zachry Middle School.
He earned a UTSA Distinguished Presidential Scholarship, University of Houston Academic Excellence Scholarship, and Highest Ranking Graduate Scholarship.
At Warren, he served as Percussion Captain, Battery Section Leader, and Band Historian.
His most influential teacher was John Moran, his fourth grade teacher at Raba ES.
“I’ve had the privilege of having so many great teachers throughout my time in NISD, but the one that I always seem to look back on is my fourth grade teacher Mr. Moran.” Garner said. “Though I didn’t realize it at the time, he allowed me to shed some of my introverted-ness and taught me valuable lessons that I still carry with me. His enthusiasm for his job and his kids was unmatched and is something that I fondly look back on.”
“I’d also like to give immense thanks to all of the teachers I had last year and this year. Even with setbacks, I sincerely appreciate the time and energy put into making my education worthwhile.”
Helen Mariam Jayesh is the 2021 salutatorian at Warren High School and plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin. Her future career aspiration is to become an aerospace engineer or airline pilot.
The daughter of Brincy Jayesh and Jayesh Varghese also attended McDermott Elementary School and Rudder Middle School.
She earned multiple scholarships including a Distinguished Presidential Scholarship from the University of Texas at San Antonio, UT Award from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M Award from Texas A&M University, and a Presidential Scholarship Award and Women of Excellence Award from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Jayesh served in many leadership roles at Warren HS including battery co-section leader for the Warren Marching Band, photographer for Warriors for Christ, Co-Founder of SMARTS (Student Mentors Actively Reading to Students) Reading Mentorship, and Senior Mentor for askWANDA (Warren Alumni Network Delivers Advice).
Her most influential Northside teacher was her third grade teacher at McDermott ES, Laura Tahuahua.
“Mrs. Tahuahua helped me break out of my shell,” Jayesh said. “Growing up, I hated school and would cry every morning because I despised the idea of going. I had only been in the country for a couple of years and rejected the idea that it would become my new home. To make things worse, I never really understood many of the concepts that I was learning. However, I’ll never forget the bright and compassionate smile that welcomed me on the first day of third grade. Through Mrs. Tahuahua’s constant encouragement, I believed in myself and slowly allowed myself to see what I was capable of.”
Jayesh also has advice for future graduates.
“You are your biggest fan but also your biggest enemy,” Jayesh said. “Set yourself short-term goals, and don't compare your journey and purpose to those who surround you. Don't be afraid to ask questions- it's better to look dumb than to end up dumb because you didn't learn a thing (I learned the hard way). Before you know it, you'll find yourself crossing the stage one day and you will be glad that you worked so hard for it. Best of luck!”