We are pleased to feature our high school valedictorians and salutatorians for this year.
Brandeis High School
Evelyn Huang, the valedictorian of Brandeis High School, plans to attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She plans to major in business and public policy or finance and pursue a career as an investment banker or economic research analyst.
The daughter of Lucy Kou and Jerry Huang, she attended Leon Springs Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
While at Brandeis, she served as president of the debate team, president of the National Honor Society, founder of Brandeis Duos, an Eddie Rodriguez for Texas Senate campaign fellow, and church pianist.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to learn from many dedicated teachers through NISD,” Huang said. “These teachers made every effort to ensure that I completely understood the concepts they were teaching, even if it meant staying after school or sacrificing their lunch periods. Besides satisfying my love of learning, my teachers have gone out of their way to form personal relationships with me, which I dearly treasure. I’ll certainly miss my daily interactions with the special connections I’ve made so far, but I know that no matter what, I’ll always have a community back at home that is cheering me on.”
“I’m eternally grateful for my parents, siblings, friends, and mentors. Thank you for mourning every loss and celebrating every victory with me, for believing in my potential even when I had my doubts, and for driving me everywhere, since I still don’t have my license.”
Huang said her most influential teacher was her debate coach, Leslie Crady. “She gave up nearly every weekend over the past four years to accompany me to debate tournaments, went above and beyond to give me every opportunity possible, sometimes at her own expense, and taught me to use my voice. She is my advocate, mentor, and friend. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her continued support.”
Jacqueline Carmela Rangel, the salutatorian for Brandeis High School, plans to attend either the University of Texas at Austin or Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. to major in engineering. She plans to pursue a career in environmental engineering.
The daughter of Miguel and Esther Rangel also attended Steubing Elementary School and Stinson Middle School.
During her time at Brandeis, she served as treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta and was co-captain of the girls’ varsity bowling team.
“Northside ISD has given me an environment in which I could foster knowledge in my interests and through that, has guided me to pursue further study and a career in something that I am passionate about,” she said. “I am extremely grateful for all the guidance and support that I’ve received from so many of my teachers throughout school, and I am excited to see where it takes me in the future.”
Rangel said that her most influential teacher was science teacher Kristen Gunter. “The subjects she taught me, PreAP Biology and AP Environmental Science, greatly influenced the way I looked at and interacted with the world,” she said. “Her class spurred in me a love for environmental sustainability and this has impacted the career I want to pursue in the future.”
Brennan High School
Jordanna Abarca, the valedictorian at Brennan High School, plans to attend Baylor University in Waco majoring in medical humanities. She plans to pursue a career as an obstetrician.
The daughter of Manuel Abarca Saez and Susan Abarca also attended Folks Middle School.
While at Brennan, she served as president of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica, National Honor Society officer, Latinos Unidos officer, and Christian Club leader.
“NISD has equipped me with an integrated educational experience that allowed me to experiment with different areas of study and find what I truly love to do,” she said. “Because of the incredible programs offered at Brennan, I was able to discover my passion.”
“I've had so many influential teachers at NISD that it is impossible for me to choose just one. Many of my teachers were personally invested in my growth, challenging me both academically and personally. I don't have words to express my gratitude to them.”
Diana Farmer, the salutatorian at Brennan High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in nutrition. She plans to pursue a career as a dermatologist.
The daughter of Antonia Meneghini and James Daniel, she also attended Bernal Middle School.
“NISD has prepared me for the future by offering me the opportunity to take ISM. ISM is a class which allows students to explore a field of study that interests them,” Farmer said. “My field of choice was dermatology. Throughout my junior year, I shadowed a certified dermatologist. We had meetings where we discussed the impact dermatologists have on people's lives, the education necessary to become a dermatologist, and the different paths I can take in this career as well. My experience in ISM only solidified my desire to pursue this career, so I'm very glad to have been able to take it.”
“I would like to thank my family, friends, and all the teachers who dedicated their time to helping me on this long journey. As cheesy as it may sound, I would not have been here without them. I never expected to receive this title, and that's as genuine as I can be. I know I'm not the smartest or most capable person but one thing that sets me apart is my drive to be my absolute best. All I wanted each semester was to do better than I did the previous semester, and I achieved that. When I value something, it's all I can think about, and my passion has driven my hard work. Without passion, I feel as though life has no meaning. So, if I could tell future classes one thing, it would be that whatever you do in life, whether it be academic, artistic, athletic, or beyond- whatever goals you set for yourself, ensure that it's for something you are truly passionate about. That's all that matters.”
Farmer said her most influential teacher was GT/Academic Decathlon teacher Ramses Escobedo. “Mr. Escobedo is truly an amazing teacher, and you can tell that everything he does is for the benefit of the students he teaches. I have gone to him for advice numerous times for many different issues I needed guidance on, both in my academic life and personal issues. Each time he listened to everything I had to say, told me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear, and helped me resolve my issues. Mr. Escobedo has shaped me into a more caring, considerate, and responsible person over the course of this year, and I'm privileged to have had him as an educator. I hope to be able to touch the lives of people in my future as he has touched mine.”
Construction Careers Academy
Caleb Montes, the valedictorian at Construction Careers Academy, plans to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio majoring in electrical engineering. He plans to pursue a career as an electrical engineer.
The son of Michelle Montes and Erick Montes attended Lewis Elementary School and Vale Middle School.
“NISD has prepared me for college and for a future career by providing many opportunities to explore my interests and get ahead in life,” Montes said. “First and foremost, I have had the privilege of attending Construction Careers Academy, a school specially operated to offer the skills and information necessary for the career path I wish to follow. From CCA, I’ve acquired licenses necessary for the industry and have gotten post-secondary credits that will go towards my college education. Additionally, from NISD, I’ve had the ability to take many AP and Dual Credit courses that will greatly put me ahead in terms of my degree path. These opportunities alone have given me a great deal of preparation for my future goals and aspirations. Furthermore, the NISD staff including teachers, counselors, and administrators have all done their best to educate and support me and every other student and to ensure that we leave them better situated and better off.”
“I would especially like to thank my counselor Melissa Clarke for always being available when I had questions concerning scheduling, available courses, advisement for success, questions about college, and encouragement.
Montes said his most influential teacher was Electrical/HVAC strand teacher Armando Orta.
“Mr. Orta has not only been a teacher in the academic sense but also in the way that he has imbued us with general lessons that we must apply in life. He has stressed the importance of a strong work ethic and having pride in our work, encouraged us to seize opportunities to better ourselves and advance our careers, and he has prepared us for work in the electrical field as well as any other type of work. Within his class and within the workshop, he taught us the qualities that will make us valuable students, workers, and citizens. He also encouraged me to join SkillsUSA for National Electrical Codes during my senior year and I would go on to place first at the state competition. Overall, the lessons and skills he provided me and many others with will forever be relevant throughout our lives.”
Nikolai Hewitt, the salutatorian at Construction Careers Academy, plans to attend Texas State University in San Marcos majoring in Exercise and Sports Science. He plans to pursue a career as a physical therapist.
The son of Julia Hewitt and Thomas Max Hewitt attended Braun Station Elementary School and Stevenson Middle School.
“NISD has taught me that if I want something I should go out and get it. Throughout my years in this district, many teachers have pushed me to work hard and to take pride in my work. This will aid me in college and beyond because I already have the mindset of hard work, thanks to NISD teachers.”
“I would like to thank my family for always supporting me in my education and my interests outside of school. I would also like to thank all of my close friends for showing me the value of communication and the importance of being able to laugh. Lastly, I would like to thank my coach throughout high school for helping me to gain confidence and a tireless work ethic.”
Hewitt said his most influential teacher is carpentry teacher Lesford Dixon. “Through these years, Mr. Dixon has taught me the importance of working with honesty and integrity. His ‘one love’ motto, which every carpentry student is familiar with, has taught me to stay close to those around me and to appreciate my friends and family for all they've done for me. He has taught me to be honest with myself when it comes to my expectations and to put my all into things that interest me. The support he’s given me in my interests and his bright sense of humor is something I will truly miss in college and beyond.”
Clark High School
Ian Pumphrey, the valedictorian at Clark High School, plans to attend Columbia University in New York City majoring in political science. He plans to pursue a career as an international correspondent, UNHCR worker, or music journalist.
The son of Karen and Kevin Pumphrey attended Aue Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School.
While at Clark, he served as president of the National Honor Society and editor-in-chief for the Clark newspaper.
When asked how NISD prepared him for college he stated, “they (NISD) organized SAT School days and the counselors helped me with the Common Application, which helped me get into Columbia. In addition, the AP classes are good prep for college classes.”
“A huge thanks to all the teachers and counselors who are always working hard for Northside, especially my mom and dad. Also, an equally huge thanks to all the teachers who taught me throughout the years.”
Pumphrey stated that his most influential teacher was Kevin Pumphrey. “He was an extremely engaging lecturer, very well-spoken, and genuinely cares about what he’s teaching and who he’s teaching it to. He’s not only my father, but the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
Bill Geng, the salutatorian at Clark High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in biology.
The son of Hui Geng and Guiyan Liu attended McDermott Elementary School and Rawlinson Middle School.
“NISD has provided me with the vast array of opportunities to take AP exams, enabling me to prepare for college from the start of high school,” Geng said.
Geng said his most influential teacher was Latin teacher William Lee. “Mr. Lee was one of my biggest influences throughout my high school career. Having spent four years in his class, I learned many valuable lessons. However, his teaching was not the biggest influence towards me. It was his discipline that kept me on the right track throughout high school.”
“Mrs. Bartell (my world history, art history, and European History teacher) helped me gain new appreciation for history and is one of the biggest reasons why I love learning about our ancient world. I also want to thank Mr. McCall, 7th grade US History teacher, and Mr. Pedroza, 9th grade Algebra II teacher.”
Communications Arts High School
Mariel Ann Gosamo Salomon, the valedictorian at Communications Arts High School, plans to attend Texas A&M University majoring in computer science. She plans to pursue a career as a software/web developer.
The daughter of Bernard Salomon and Catherine Salomon attended Hoffmann and Mireles elementary schools and Briscoe Middle School.
While at CommArts, she served as president of the Student Council and secretary of Helping Hands.
“I have been part of NISD for all 12 years of my education and I really don’t think I’d have it any other way. I have felt academically supported at each level of schooling, and my experience at Communications Arts High School in particular has been especially notable for offering endless enriching experiences (e.g. volunteering opportunities and meaningful field trips) as well as the capacity to expand my education through ways I know I’m lucky to have had access to (e.g. college preparatory classes and unique curriculums covering graphic design and audio/video production.) NISD has provided me with a well-rounded academic experience without compromising exploration of the creative side of the brain.”
“I know I’m still in high school, but already a part of me is mourning the end of it. High school is always said to fly by quickly, but I feel that the pandemic might’ve exacerbated that effect. I wish we all had more time together, but I know it’s getting to be time to clock out. I want to thank all my beloved buddies for making my heart warmer than I’d ever think it could be (I’m sure you guys know who you are), my teachers for nourishing me with knowledge, and my family for never outwardly pressuring me to follow suit of my older sister, who graduated valedictorian of CommArts in 2015.”
Salomon said his more influential teacher was Sandra Figueroa, a 7th grade GT English teacher at Briscoe Middle School. “Sandra Figueroa taught me so many of the big words I still know and use to this day. She knew a lot of things (she just seemed to gush with knowledge like that), but above all else, she knew how to make a classroom into a home. She did something I never got to properly thank her for until now: she made the nervous, insecure, and pubescent 12-year-old I was, feel fluorescent, notable, and for once, worthy. That's an important thing for a kid to feel if they haven’t felt it before. It really only takes one school year and one outstanding teacher to change a young girl’s life. She is a boon - dutifully nurturing, unfailingly kind, and oozing with ebullience - the field of education is lucky to have her. I know I sure was.”
Tatiana Barajas, salutatorian at Communications Arts High School, plans to major in mathematics and hopes to become a math professor.
The daughter of Isabel Barajas and Jose Barajas attended Ott Elementary School and Luna Middle School.
While at CommArts, she served as president of the Spanish National Honor Society.
“NISD has given me the opportunity to learn how to become a better leader in a supportive and safe environment, which will ultimately prepare me for any future endeavor but especially if I get the opportunity and honor to teach. NISD's opportunity of magnet schools has also allowed me to start challenging myself academically at a younger age, which shall be a great advantage to enter college with.”
Barajas says his most influential teacher was Dora Delgado. “Maestra Delgado was my most influential teacher at NISD because without her I would have never been able to become fully fluent in Spanish. She’s given me a lifelong skill that will greatly benefit me and give me an advantage in not only the workforce but also my day to day life.”
“I would like to give a very special thank you to Maestra Delgado, without her I would not be as fluent as I am in Spanish. Although I've grown up in a household where Spanish is spoken, it wasn't until I started taking Spanish classes and I got that support in addition to the support from home that I was able to fully immerse myself in the Spanish language. Maestra Delgado's passion for both teaching and the Spanish language has been infectious from day one, her attitude and dedication to her students has truly made me feel seen and further motivated me to become a teacher so that I am able to support others like that one day as well. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity of being her student for three years, her classroom is one that I will genuinely miss entering each day.”
Harlan High School
Micayla Busgillos, the valedictorian at Harlan High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in computer and electrical engineering. She plans to pursue a career as an electrical engineer.
The daughter of Marcelo and Monica Bustillos attended Jefferson Middle School.
While at Harlan, she served as vice president of the National Honor Society and captain of the varsity softball team.
“Northside ISD is a competitive district and it has taught me the importance of not only working hard, but respecting those around me who work just as hard,” she said.
“I want to thank my parents and family. I would not have been able to do this without their support and constant encouragement. I am who I am because of them and I plan to spend every moment from here on to continue to make them proud.”
Her most influential teacher was English teacher Juton Buescher. “She gave me the basis for how I approached the next four years. She encouraged me to take advantage of my time in every way while still enjoying the beauty of high school. She helped me find a way to create my balance with everything I was handling. She believed in me which in turn helped me believe in myself.”
Sophia Nicolella, the salutatorian at Harlan High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in astronomy. She plans to pursue a career as an astrophysicist.
The daughter of Daniel Nicolella and Jennifer Nicolella attended Hoffmann Elementary School and Berna Middle School.
While at Harlan she served as co-president of the art club.
“NISD has provided me with many academic and extracurricular opportunities that have given me the chance to grow my mind and my heart. I have had access to amazing programs, such as ISM, that have helped me prepare for the college environment while also teaching me the importance of human connection and the power of friendship. The wide range of clubs offered at my schools have helped me expand my skill set and taught me leadership skills that will be invaluable in my future.”
“I would like to thank my friends for sticking by my side. I could never have accomplished so much without their support and company along the way. Thank you to my parents for guiding me through high school and answering all my questions.”
Her most influential teacher was art teacher Mandy Clarson. “Mrs. Clarson has never failed to support me in everything I do, not just art. She has encouraged me to put myself out there, which has resulted in several awards for which I might not have even considered myself eligible. She has been a ray of sunshine for as long as I’ve known her, and I admire her incredible work ethic and responsibility. By working so hard and caring so deeply for her students, she has inspired me to emulate the same diligence and empathy in my career.”
Health Careers High School
Uyen Taylor Doan, the valedictorian at Health Careers High School, plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio majoring in physchology. She plans to pursue a career as a physician.
The daughter of Minh Luan Doan and Thuy Doan attended Hector Garcia Middle School. While at Health Careers he served as Reading Comprehension category leader in Latin Club.
“Northside ISD helped me improve my communication and social skills, especially considering the fact that I was from a sheltered private school.”
“Thank you to my parents and my sister Ella and my brother Ethan for providing me with endless support in all my ventures. Thank you to my best friend Adhi for always helping me push through when I was stressed or down and making me laugh.”
She cites her English teacher Kenneth Van Eimeren as her most influential teacher. “Mr. Eimeren, my English teacher in my freshman year and my Latin II teacher in my sophomore year at Health Careers High School, has had a profound impact on me during high school,” she said. “He’s always made an effort to open our eyes to the world around me and provoke thought and discussion about everything from immense wealth disparities in America to whether or not a hotdog is a sandwich.”
Adhishree Chidambarem, the salutatorian at Health Careers High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in neuroscience. She plans to pursue a career as a pediatric neurophysician.
The daughter of Deepa Dhinakaran and Rajagopal Chidambaranathan attended Wanke Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
While at Health Careers, she was a member of the Academic Decathalon team all four years. She also served as co-president of the South Asian Student Association, director of San Antonio PURE Youth non -profit organization, youth director of mathrubhumi non-profit organization, and a member of National Honors Society.
“HCHS has provided me with so many opportunities to explore the medical field and find my interests,” she said. “I have been able to receive an unparalleled education for a career in medicine.”
“I would like to thank my parents for their constant support and guidance throughout my high school education. I would like to thank my brother for always making me laugh and teaching me to enjoy everything I do. Finally, I would like to give a big thank you to my best friend Taylor for motivating me to do my best, inspiring me to work hard, and staying with me through all of the ups and downs of high school. I can’t wait to spend the next four years with her.”
She credits Diana Johnson as being her most influential teacher. “Mrs. Johnston is the academic decathlon coach and AP Art History teacher. I am always amazed by her dedication to teach and her unending love to learn. She taught me to believe in myself and gave me confidence to expand my boundaries. She has supported me in all my endeavors and has become a role model for me.”
“I would also like to mention Mrs. Gina Reina, my elementary GT teacher, for helping me find my passion for science and creating a supportive environment to learn.”
Holmes High School
Jayce Sibley, the valedictorian at Holmes High School, plans to attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. majoring in Communications. He plans to pursue a career as a civil rights attorney.
The son of Thomas Sibley and Bangie Wilson attended Powell Elementary School and Ross Middle School.
While at Holmes, he served as team captain of the varsity basketball team and Journalism head of opinion writing.
“NISD has prepared me for college and beyond through putting the right people in my life. For years I have been surrounded by friends and teachers who are willing to see and accept the real me. Not only that, but to continue to encourage me to grow and become a better person that is better equipped to handle whatever challenges the future may hold.”
“I want to thank my grandparents for igniting and nurturing the dreams of a four-year-old. I believe this accomplishment is an attribute to you two more than it could ever be about me. I am not where I am without you guys and you deserve to be celebrated on this day too. You are the best of the world, the best of me. I love you more than words or actions could ever express.”
“My most influential NISD teacher was Amy Haywood who taught me English in 6th grade at Ross Middle School. Ms. Haywood was the first teacher that made sure to tell me every day it was okay to just be me. Her presence in my life allowed me to stretch and grow into someone I had always known, but the world may not have. She showed me the power to see someone for them and how world changing that one action can be. It definitely changed my world.”
Eric Joshua Sanchez, the salutatorian at Holmes High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin pursuing a career as a computer hardware engineer.
The son of Eric Orlando Sanchez and Edith Mayra Sanchez attended Powell Elementary School and Ross Middle School.
While at Holmes, he served as an officer in the Speech and Debate clubs.
“NISD has provided me with an environment to create and maintain meaningful relationships that will have a lasting impact. These relationships include Jayce Sibley, our valedictorian, who I met all the way back at Powell Elementary. In this environment, we were able to realize the significance of friendships and healthy competition. Throughout the years, NISD has provided us with avenues and fuel to sustain our friendships and add to our team. Through collaboration and the course offerings available in this district, I learned the value of an open mind, the power of a support system, and the merit of enjoying what you do- all of which I hope to carry into my future endeavors. I have also learned that it is inherently easier to enjoy what you do if you do it with people you’re fond of, a fact that looms over me in the face of my group of friends splitting up to pursue our own individual aspirations. At the root of this feeling, though, is love and great admiration for each and every one that has been by my side. Ultimately, I am able to take solace in the fact that our memories will never leave us. So, to Jayce, Analia, Maddie, Fish, Bruce, I “preshate” y’all and let’s get this.”
Sanchez says that his most influential teacher was Eric Falcon. Mr. Falcon is the type of person that you ask to pass the salt and he gives you soup. He is about the most empathetic, selfless, kind-hearted person I know. He is an amazing teacher and an even better mentor. Through a year of Geometry, three years of AVID, and three years of Speech and Debate, Mr. Falcon has inspired me to shatter glass ceilings, to find confidence in my own voice, and has taught me that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There was never a time where entering his classroom failed in brightening what could have been a bad day. His sense of humor is unmatched and his ability to make what could be a monotonous work experience engaging for his students is one that I can only aspire to learn for myself. Thank you, Falcon.”
Jay High School
Celerino Lopez, Jr., the valedictorian of Jay High School, plans to attend Texas A&M in College Station majoring in aerospace engineering. He plans to pursue a career as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force.
The son of Celerino Nava Lopez and Maria Del Carmen Ramirez attended Valley Hi Elementary.
While at Jay, he served as co-captain of the varsity football team.
He cites Coach Gary Gutierrez as his most influential NISD teacher. “Coach Gutierrez has accepted me ever since I arrived at Freshman Football Summer strength and conditioning camp. He is the mentor that I needed, and he has helped me grow into the young man that I am today.”
“NISD has provided me with the support structure to enrich and further my education. All of the staff and teachers I have encountered throughout my years have been very receptive and willing to help me. I attribute much of my success to their support and encouragement.”
“I want to thank Mrs. Brande Flores for working with me to help make my college aspirations a reality. As a first-generation student, I would not have even known where to start. She has enabled me to plan my future and shoot for the stars.”
Xadrian Knight Huerta, the salutatorian at Jay High School, plans to attend Columbia University in New York City majoring in business management. He plans to pursue a career as an entrepreneur.
The son of Tiffanie Reyes and Valentine Huerta attended Fisher Elementary School and Folks Middle School.
“My most influential NISD teacher was my 8th grade teacher Tanya Alanis at Folks Middle School. She inspired me to enjoy learning and made me feel like I could do anything.”
“I’d also like to Mrs. Brandee Flores, our college career & military advisor, for her guidance and support throughout my college process.”
Jay Science and Engineering Academy
Megan Degenhardt, the valedictorian of Jay Science and Engineering Academy, plans to attend Harvard College in Cambridge, Mass.
The daughter of Amanda Degenhardt attended Galm Elementary School and Luna Middle School.
Degenhardt lists English teacher Matthew Morelli as her most influential NISD teacher. “Mr. Morelli didn’t just teach English, he taught his students how to see things from different perspectives and analyze the world around them. Being an accomplished writer himself, he was passionate about his job and helped to nurture my own love of literature.”
“From a young age, I was encouraged to pursue all of my academic interests. Being able to go to a magnet school specified in science and engineering allowed me to explore STEM and help me determine what kind of career I would like moving forward. The people I have been surrounded with have also always encouraged me to dream bigger than I thought I could, which helped me get into my dream college.”
“I have had so many amazing experiences throughout the years. My internship at Valero in the summer of 2021 was very enlightening and a great opportunity. The tennis team was like my second family. I would like to thank all of my elementary, middle, and high school teachers for recognizing my potential. Thank you to my family for always believing in me.”
Malachi Drew, the salutatorian at Jay SEA, plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station majoring in engineering. He plans to pursue a career as an aerospace engineer.
While at JSEA, he served as president of the Jay Choir, first officer and quartermaster for Trail Life USA Troop TX-2407, and participated as Jay Model UN Secretary General.
“The most influential NISD teacher in my life was Mr. Matthew Morelli, who taught me in both English 1 and OnRamps English. Mr. Morelli helped me develop my reasoning skills and taught how to better engage in discourse with those I disagree with. NISD has prepared me for college by teaching me the importance of time management.”
“Special thanks to my parents and to Penney Maretzki, who has been like a mother to me throughout my high school years.”
Marshall High School
Michael Yoon, the valedictorian of Marshall High School, plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station majoring in aerospace engineering.
The son of Thora Yoon and Stephen Yoon was homeschooled until attending Marshall High School.
Yoon cites Orchestra teacher John Thornton as his most influential NISD teacher. “In the past two years, Mr. Thornton has had the greatest impact on me in high school. The violin has quickly become my favorite hobby and way to relax. Making music collaboratively with a group is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Mr. Thornton has always been integral in applying the right pressure, allowing the right amount of freedom, and providing the right amount of encouragement to facilitate my growth as a musician.”
“Learning how to operate in the social world, how to dedicate yourself to mastering a subject, deal with problems, avoid procrastination, work as a group… These are all life skills that can only be gained through lifelong experience. Marshall High School has been a great environment to allow me to begin learning these important lessons without the risk and consequences of real life.”
Angelynn Rivera, the salutatorian of Marshall High School, plans to attend The University of Texas in Austin majoring in women’s and gender studies pre-med track. She hopes to pursue a career as a cosmetic surgeon.
The daughter of Kathrin Rivera and Alex Rivera attended Braun Station and Carson elementary schools and Connally Middle School.
While at Marshall she served as stage manager, publicity coordinator, and a senior mentor.
“Kimberly Rodriguez, freshmen biology, has been one of my most influential teachers because of how passionate she was about biology. The love she had for it was so contagious that it made me realize I wanted to pursue a career in science.”
“NISD has provided me with not only a great education but opportunities to work on my social, leadership, and teamwork skills. Specifically, by having such strong athletic and musical programs that I have been a part of. Being able to work and cooperate with others as well as learn from my mistakes are going to be just a few of the things that I have learned over the past years at Marshall High School that I believe will benefit me in the long run.”
Northside School of Innovation, Technology, & Entrepreneurship
Peter Vasquez, the valedictorian at NSITE, plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in computer science. He plans to pursue a career as a cyber-security specialist.
The son of Luisa Vasquez and Pedro Vasquez attended Driggers Elementary School and Neff Middle School.
His most influential NISD teacher was James Ruiz, his 8th grade teacher at Neff Middle School. Mr. Ruiz taught me doors to success can’t be forcefully opened, they take time.”
“NISD has prepared me by helping me build the skills and qualities needed to learn and create ideas on my own. They have helped me find career paths I am interested in, develop skills within them, and create connections so I can be ready when I enter college and eventually the workforce.”
“I’d also like to give a special thanks to my Elementary GT/Alpha teacher Ms. Montero.”
Shawn Maki, the salutatorian at NSITE, plans to attend Northwest Vista College, majoring in political science. He plans to pursue a career as a politician.
The son of Patrice McElfresh and Robert Maki attended May Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
His most influential teacher was Caron Corum, his 6th grade English teacher at Hector Garcia Middle School. “She taught me what true kindness is and how to utilize it to help others. She was always so encouraging and helpful no matter how simple the question was.”
“NISD has provided me with outstanding resources throughout my path to college and my future career. In attending NSITE alone, I have gained valuable knowledge on a business/professional level which I now utilize on a day-to-day basis.”
“I am so thankful to all my friends who motivated me to show up for school and accepted me without question. My biggest lesson learned is that the best way to become successful is to act like you already are successful.”
O’Connor High School
Akshita Rawat, the valedictorian at O’Connor High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in electrical and computer engineering honors. She plans to pursue a career as a software engineer at Google or Apple.
The daughter of Pawan and Anisha Rawat attended Helotes and Evers elementary schools, and Hector Middle School.
While at O’Connor, she served as president of Girls Who Code, president of Alpha Gamma Tau, president of Coding Club, web executive of Mu Alpha Theta, and president of Teens in the Driver Seat.
“NISD has prepared me very well for college and my future endeavors. Whether through the outstanding teachers, administration, staff, and counseling department or rigorous, college level courses, NISD has provided endless opportunities for me to grow at a personal and academic level.”
“I want to thank my parents, my sister Ishita, my brother Jay, and- my biggest stress-reliever- my dog Leo, for shaping me to become the person I am today. I also want to thank my teachers and friends who have guided and supported me, and celebrated even the smallest accomplishments with me throughout the past four years.”
Her most influential teacher was William Haltom. “Mr. Haltom has been my most impactful teacher through high school as he and his classes encouraged me to pursue a career in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has always been very encouraging which has helped me overcome the obstacles of being one of the few girls in a computer science class. The teamwork in his class showed how enjoyable coding can be! Additionally, my sophomore English teacher Greg Scherrer, chemistry teacher Monica Treviño, AP Art History teacher Ashley Henas, and senior AP English 4 teacher Robert Beckwith have continued to be very supportive throughout my four years at O’Connor.”
Shelby Crowley, the salutatorian at O’Connor High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in biology. She plans to pursue a career as a research assistant/conservationist.
The daughter of Monica Crowley and Bryan Crowley attended Kuentz Elementary School and Hector Garcia Middle School.
While at O’Connor, she served as vice president of the Class of 2022, president of the O’Connor Orchestra, and secretary of Mu Alpha Theta.
“My most influential NISD teacher was my 10th grade AP Environmental Science teacher Melissa Michalak. I took APES as a sophomore not knowing it would greatly impact my future goals. Mrs. Michalak helped me to realize how much I cared about conservation and other environmental sciences, and she was such an encouraging and helpful teacher! I had a great time in her class and I’m so thankful to have had her as a teacher in high school.”
“NISD has taught me how to be organized and plan for my future. I have always felt encouraged by my teachers and peers to aim high and persevere to reach my goals.”
Stevens High School
Katherine “KC” Callicotte, the valedictorian for Stevens High School, plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station majoring in business. She plans to pursue a career in accounting.
The daughter of Michael and Lisa Callicotte attended Lewis Elementary School and Vale Middle School.
While at Stevens, she served as captain of the varsity soccer team, captain of the cross country team, and was on the Athletic Leadership Council.
Her most influential teacher was her fifth grade teacher at Lewis Elementary School, Scott Guzik.
“Mr. Guzik was the person who told me what valedictorian was and challenged me to be one in high school. I was already very competitive and wanted to have high grades, but Mr. Guzik helped give me a clear goal to strive for and the constant and lasting reason to maintain good grades throughout my schooling.”
“I’ve spent 13 years in NISD. In elementary school I learned about character and the basics of writing and math. In middle school I learned time management as my classes began to be more and more advanced, and taking some high school credit courses. In high school, AP and OnRamps classes earned me college credit and prepared me for the fast pace of college. NISD schools are where I learned many social skills such as how to work with others, and allowed me to meet some of my best friends. NISD provided me with the technology and resources to be able to succeed.”
“I would like to thank my parents for supporting me in all my endeavors and allowing me to focus on school and sports. I would also like to give special thanks to my club soccer coach Bobby Blount. Bobby has been my coach for over 10 years and I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. Bobby is on numerous boards and has started several programs such as solar cars and the Northside youth soccer league, through all his meetings and events he always made my team a priority. He volunteered his time to coach my team, twice a week for practice and one game a weekend sometimes more if there was a tournament and he had multiple teams. Bobby has given back so much to the community and has been such an inspiration to me. I hope that when I’m out of college that I will be able to make even a fraction of the impact he has had on me and others.”
Jonathan Navira, the salutatorian of Stevens High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in business. He plans to pursue a career as a business entrepreneur and real estate mogul.
The son of Lisa and Diego Navia attended Murnin Elementary School and Vale Middle School.
While at Stevens, he served as president of the Senior Class, Varsity Athletic Leadership Council, SAT and STEM Club Creator/Co-President
He cites GT teacher Jennifer Boyer at Murnin Elementary School as his most influential NISD teacher. “Before I give my reasoning, I would truly just like to say thank you to Mrs. Boyer. The continual work that she puts in, in order to give students a challenging yet astronomical educational year is breathtaking, and I truly think is what separates her from the rest. To be a GT student in itself is a huge accomplishment, but to be under the guidance of someone who embraces every aspect of a student is truly what made me, me. She took every opportunity to not only be a teacher, but a mother to all of us in her class. Some of the life lessons that she taught me in her classroom have weaved their way into my life as I walk the stage and depart into the real world. She crafted every aspect of my educational journey from the beginning; she embraced the person I was, she taught me what it means to be creative, she instilled hard work into outlets of my live, and lastly, she taught me the confidence that has blended itself to allowing myself to be who I am today. From the first day of Little Jon being inducted into GT classroom, to some of my final moments in high school, Mrs. Jennifer Boyer, has changed my life and will forever be named my most influential teacher. Thank you, Mrs. Boyer.”
“NISD has taught me the utter importance of having a voice, creating your own opportunities and establishing strong study habits. From Pre-K to my senior year, all my schools have taught me different things, but in whole, Northside has taught me to fight for what I believe is right and to chase beyond the stars for there is a whole universe.”
“Walking the halls of Murnin elementary for the first time, it taught me to embrace the inner child that is so vibrant in everyone. It’s okay to be different, it's okay to not follow the orthodox approach, and most importantly what it means to be a mariner; to sail beyond the sea and not be afraid of the unknown. Having my first mini graduation to becoming a stingray, Vale taught me that life’s gonna push you around, but it's truly how you sting and respond back to adversity, is what shows the true colors of a person. Lastly, with sadness and gratitude, my final moments of high school are nearing an end, but nevertheless, John Paul Stevens High school has opened my eyes to seeing the beautiful colors of the world and what it means to be a falcon. Soaring higher than everyone else, and taking the chance to fall, as those are the ones who learn to fly. From exploring the seas, to overcoming adversity, to learning how to fly; NISD has prepared me for anything that life throws at me.”
“I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my educational journey. To every single one of my teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches and most importantly, my family and friends, thank you for your everlasting support. No amount of words can show my gratitude towards all of you. A special thanks to all my Tennis coaches: Chelsea, Raul, Niko, Pedro, Austin and Cook for the endless support in not only the game but in life; y’alls love and support are something I will always cherish. To my friends, I love each of you and I know greatness is destined for you all. Lastly, but not certainly not least, my brother, mom and dad. The three that are not only my home, but my life. Thank you for raising me to be the young man I am today, and continually pushing me to become the best version of myself. It is for that reason, I have learned not what I want to be, but rather who I want to be. I want to be my mom's happiness, my dad's pride, and my brother's courage. Thank you and I love you unconditionally. As I part ways with some of the best memories, I would like for everyone here to know this. “I love you beyond paint, beyond melodies, beyond words. I hope you will always feel that even when I’m not around to tell you so.”
Taft High School
Kylie Wray, the valedictorian of Taft High School, plans on attending the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, majoring in aerospace engineering.
She is the daughter of Maria and Kenneth Wray. While at Taft, she served as Student Council President, Class of 2022 treasurer, and National Honor Society Parliamentarian.
She lists all of her teachers at NISD as her most influential ones. “Each teacher taught me a different life lesson and there was never a single one who didn’t reach me in a unique way.”
“NISD has helped teach me that it is not just about the individual but the entire community. I’ve learned to put the good of my campus before myself, and I believe this lesson will serve me well as I begin a career in our United States military.”
“Overall, I would like to thank everyone. From my teachers who helped push me further than I thought I could go. Our administrators for guiding me in leadership and helping me understand the true meaning of our school's culture. For the cross-country team in showing me how to grow as not only an athlete but a teammate. Thank you to our class president for being the most amazing classmate and friend I could have asked for. And above all thank you to all my friends and family for supporting me even if I didn’t always believe in myself.”
Nadya Harris, the salutatorian at Taft High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in environmental engineering. She plans to pursue a career as a senior environmental engineering working in water access and treatment
While at Taft, she served as Construction Club President, Taft National Technical Honor Society President
Harris lists GT and English teacher Delaney Juarez as her most influential NISD teacher. “She has always encouraged me and has been willing to help me on essays, recommendations, and has been a wonderfully supportive teacher over all. She was also a great Academic Decathlon coach and I am very thankful she introduced me to the class. From letting us build Rube-Goldberg machines to getting into the grit of poems and short stories, she has always facilitated imagination and creativity.”
“NISD has certainly offered a curriculum that has adjusted me to college-level work, however the way they have most prepared me is through the different industries and interests they have exposed me to. I have been able to engage hands-on in the Construction industry, for example, because of the opportunities educators within NISD have provided.”
“I’d like to thank my parents and extended family for their support and also my Construction teachers, who have influenced what I want to do in my career. My heart goes out to all of those who have supported me and my peers over the years.”
Warren High School
Khalid Omar, the valedictorian at Warren High School, plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in biology. He plans to pursue a career in dentistry.
The son of Naveen Omar attended Myers and Fernandez elementary schools and Zachry Middle School.
He lists Gregory Combs as his most influential NISD teacher. “Mr. Combs grade levels but I had him freshmen year for Pre- AP Biology at Warren HS. I had him for first period of freshmen year, so when I started my high school career, he was the first teacher I had. I was initially nervous to be in high school but Mr. Combs proved that it didn’t have to be a bland and scary experience. His class was engaging every day and he went out of his way to make class a fun experience. He did things his way. He was outgoing and just a cool guy to be around. I want to go into the biology field partially because of him. He just made my first introductions to high school a fantastic experience.”
“NISD has prepared me for college and/or careers by putting me in a situation where I had to be responsible and able to be independent. NISD has taught me to be self-sufficient and to get tasks done in a timely manner. Being in this school system has allowed me to get an understanding of hard work and the self-determination it takes to want to succeed.”
“I’d like to thank all my teachers, friends, and family.”
Priscilla Teran, the salutatorian of Warren High School, plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin majoring in environmental science. She plans to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist.
The daughter of Laura Teran and Javier Teran attended Fernandez Elementary School and Zachry Middle School.
While at Warren, she served as President of the Astronomy Club and Social Officer of the Varsity Dance Team.
“My most influential teacher was Beverly Martinez, my 4th grade teacher from Fernandez Elementary. Mrs. Martinez was the teacher who taught me how to express myself in my writing. She genuinely cared for the growth of her students and she never stopped advocating for me for the recognition she believed I deserved. She gave me the confidence I was lacking in my writing, which has now become a strong skill of mine. She was an amazing teacher and taught valuable lessons to not only me, but my other two siblings. She is the reason why I started putting effort into my schoolwork, without her, I wouldn’t be the student I am today.”
“The variety of courses offered to me throughout my time in NISD has continuously prepared me for the next chapter of my life. They have allowed me to narrow down my interests and figure out what I want to do in the future.”
“I’d like to thank every teacher that I have had the privilege to be a student of, you have all had a positive impact on my life and I’m grateful for the lessons that you have taught me. And as for my fellow peers, please remember to enjoy every moment that you are given in this life, because you never know when everything will change, and a new chapter begins.”