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.
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.
Although Worthing High School salutatorian Kerdy Jn Baptiste is three minutes older than his twin, in the end it was his sister, Kerdian Mia Jn Baptiste, who earned the title of valedictorian. But there is nothing but love and appreciation for each other’s accomplishments.
According to Worthing High School Principal Khalilah
Campbell, the Baptiste twins were in a tight race for valedictorian.
“I thought he was going to catch her,” Campbell said, “but
in the end, Kerdian won, (and) her twin brother, Kerdy, is our
The list of prestigious universities that
want to enroll Heights High School valedictorian Emily Ramirez is impressive—Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Duke,
Stanford, Wellesley, Pomona, and Rice.
Emily has decided on Harvard, however, partly because her sister
is finishing her sophomore year there now. Since attending Harvard Elementary
School, it has been a dream of hers to attend Harvard University.
The numerous acceptances have taken the
sting out of her disappointment regarding an abbreviated senior year and
graduation ceremony that is up in the air.
Benjamin Brown has adjusted to his new online
classroom routine but says he would prefer to go
back to in-person classes to utilize his “full potential.”
Benjamin wakes up 30 minutes prior to his
first virtual class, has breakfast, and logs into the portal where the class
will take place. Afterward, he immediately gets started on the work for his
dual credit and high school classes.
“One of the two of the main challenges I am
experiencing with virtual schooling is waking up on time,” he said. “The second
is definitely an increase in the amount of work from my dual credit classes.”
Maria Rosas Rosas always looks on the bright side. Despite
her disappointment at not seeing her friends and family at graduation, she is
“Being a virtual valedictorian doesn’t feel that different
from being a valedictorian walking the halls at Westbury,” Maria said. “Apart
from the uncertainty surrounding graduation, I am proud of myself and my
accomplishments. I know my friends, teachers, and family are also proud of me.
That is all I really need.
“Like everyone else, I can’t help but feel disappointed by the
way the school year is ending. We have been working so hard the past four years
and expected to see ourselves walking across the stage, receiving our diplomas,
and sharing some tears. Now that is gone. Although it’s depressing, I believe
it will make our next meeting more memorable..”
Mariela Banda was looking forward to celebrating the end of
her high school years in person with her classmates at Milby High School.
“Being a virtual valedictorian is unfortunate since we will
not be able to fully close this chapter of our lives before we continue with
the next one,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking not to be able to share the joy of
graduation with my class. Instead, we have to worry about the
future. Being a virtual valedictorian is both challenging and stressful,
but I feel certain my class will continue to move forward.”
Mariela is still reaching out to motivate members of her
Although he is more of a “face-to-face person,” Energized for STEM Academy valedictorian Michael Duru is excited to be at the top of his class during this time of virtual learning.
circumstances under which this is happening aren’t great, but I feel
somewhat special to be part of something that has never happened before.” Duru
A natural leader, Michael encourages his fellow students to participate in the online school environment by joining in virtual class discussions.
“I’ve been able to help lead my class by reaching out to other students via text and being as active as possible in class group chats,” he said. “I welcome this change as a way to stay connected with my peers and encourage them to finish the year strong.”