There have been seniors who have tied for valedictorian at many HISD high schools over the years, but never before have there been nine valedictorians who all achieved a grade point average of 5.0.
Bellaire High School is where this extraordinary achievement happened. The nine valedictorians are Alkiviades Boukas, Daniel Chen, Evie Tseng-Ying Kao, Angela Ling, Miles Mackenzie, Wenson Tsiah-Hao Tang, Christopher Zhou, and twin sisters Annie and Shirley Zhu.
Bellaire Principal Michael McDonough said even during their freshmen year, he started hearing that the Class of 2021 was something special.
“I began to consider the idea of two to three valedictorians, but I never imagined nine,” McDonough said. “These students are also involved in after-school activities and leaders in various organizations. To juggle their schoolwork and extracurriculars, then throw in a pandemic and virtual learning, and still maintain a 5.0 GPA. It is nothing short of amazing. I could not be prouder of them.”
Twins Annie and Shirley Zhu have garnered national attention for cofounding Fresh Hub, an organization that rescues unsold food and redistributes the fruits, vegetable, and bread to food desert regions across Houston.
“I genuinely love learning subjects across the board and thinking about interdisciplinary connections, so it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite class,” Annie said. “When coursework gets challenging and balancing academics with extracurriculars gets hard, remember to cut yourself some slack, because making mistakes is the best way to grow.”
Both twins said they have loved their four years at Bellaire High School. A natural-born leader, Shirley offers advice to other students to embrace their learning experience.
“Take joy in learning! There will be challenges, but challenges are what make something rewarding in the end,” she said. “Put the time, effort, and energy into classes, but also explore your interests with different clubs and please prioritize your mental health. When you start to have tunnel vision … take a step back and take a breather.”
“These students are inspiring examples of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “I am incredibly proud of all of them for this milestone achievement and know that they are also actively involved at Bellaire High School. Balancing school and extracurriculars is no easy feat, and they were able to do it and maintain a 5.0 GPA. I am confident each of them will find tremendous success and ultimately give back to our community in amazing ways.”
The valedictorians plan to attend various universities. Here is where they plan to go and what they plan to major in:
- Alkiviades Boukas: University of Texas at Austin, Physics
- Daniel Chen: Carnegie Mellon University, Information Systems
- Evie Tseng-Ying Kao: University of Texas at Austin, Business/Finance
- Angela Ling: Undecided, Business or Biology
- Miles Mackenzie: University of Texas at Austin, Physics
- Wenson Tsiah-Hao Tang: Carnegie Mellon University, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Christopher Zhou: Rice University, undecided
- Annie Zhu: Stanford University, Symbolic Systems
- Shirley Zhu: Undecided, Computer Science
Bellaire High School will host their graduation on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
To honor the district’s valedictorians and salutatorians, a Scholars Recognition Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 13, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Delmar Stadium.
In addition, their photos, the college they plan to attend, and the subjects they plan to study are posted on the district website. To access them, please visit HoustonISD.org/2021Scholars.