Scholars Recognition Ceremony honors Class of 2021 valedictorians, salutatorians

The Houston Independent School District celebrated the top students from each high school’s graduating class at a Scholars Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday evening at Delmar Stadium. 

Dozens of attending valedictorians and salutatorians were presented with medallions by their parents in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements, including a history-making nine valedictorians from Bellaire High School.

In her address to the seniors, Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan emphasized the students’ accomplishments and the possibilities ahead.

“This has been a challenging year for HISD,” she said. “But you are proof that great things are happening throughout the district. Given what you have accomplished so far, there is no limit to what you can do in college and beyond.” 

The featured speaker, Christopher Gardner, is best known as the subject of the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith, which was based on his 2006 memoir of being homeless with his son. In a virtual address, Gardner pointed out that since the Class of 2021 was born, there has been nonstop change. He mentioned Y2K, 9-11, a global financial crisis, and the current pandemic.

“Change is in your DNA. With all the changes you have experienced, keep in mind as you continue your education, this is the time to do school like a B-O-S-S: Be Bold, Opportunistic, Strategic, and Straight. Ask for help if you need it, master these new required soft skills, and keep your focus on the long game, as we are playing chess not checkers,” he said.

HISD Board Trustees Holly Flynn Vilaseca, Judith Cruz, Daniela Hernandez, Elizabeth Santos, Anne Sung, and Myrna Guidry were also in attendance.

“You are capable of great things, and it is your responsibility to give it everything you got,” HISD Board President Patricia Allen told the scholars. “Find your passion and your mission in life. Dream big, and make your dreams a reality. Set your goals, and don’t quit until you reach them.”

The event was sponsored by Smart Financial Credit Union, and CEO Larry Seidl was presented with a framed fine art photograph by a Bellaire High School student photographer. In addition to their medallions, each student received an HISD tumbler, a $100 gift card to Olive Garden, and a yard sign with their name on it.

To see photos of the valedictorians and salutatorians, find out where they are going to college, their favorite subjects, and more about them, visit  Meet the Top Students from HISD’s Class of 2021.