Through strains of Pomp and Circumstance, school and class songs, seniors across the Brush Country will receive their diplomas this Friday and Saturday.
These young men and women will now embark on their next journey in life. Many will attend institutions of higher learning, join the armed forces or enter the workforce.
These students have accomplished the requirement for graduation. Some have achieved honor status from their principals or are at the top ten percent of their class.
This year’s honor graduates (by their respective high schools) include:
Pleasanton’s honor graduates include: Valedictorian Gabriella Gonzales, Salutatorian Emily Collins and Top Ranking Boy Zade Llamas. Other graduates receiving top honors are: Eric Amador, Michael Brinkman, Gabriella Brooks, Emma Garcia, Reagan Heffernan, Jessica Herschap, Abigail Kinsel, Ryan Moos, Clayton Myrin, Cassandra Ortiz, Dallas Owen, Enedina Resendiz, Taylor Shearrer, Danielle Vasquez, Gary Luke Walters, Sterling Woerner and Jenna Yow.
In Jourdanton the honor graduates are Valedictorian Austin Darrow, Salutatorian Cody Johnston and Top Ranking Girl Blanca Baeza. Top honors also go to Israel Aguero, Jennifer Alvord, Tori Bautista, Desney Black, Stormi Crouch, Corbin Haverlah, Breanna Henderson, Travis Huckleberry, William Hudson, Briana Iglecias, Kelsey Kralman, Meagan Kron, Gabriela Martinez, Kayla Muckleroy, Morrigan Peltier, Jack Riggs, Teraleah Sparks, Ventruce Turner and Preston Weden.
In Poteet, Valedictorian Samantha Mikolajczyk and Salutatorian Emily Akers are joined by honor graduates Adrian Contreras, Courtney Criswell, Magnolia Flores, David Garcia, Savanah Holloway, Cassandra Leal, Samantha Mikolajczyk, Rosendo Montoya, Robert Ramos and Kayla Wilkins earned honor graduate status in Poteet.
Charlottes’s honor graduates include Valedictorian Kelli Mann and Salutatorian Rebecca Pesqueda, Top Ranking Boy Anthony Martinez, Cory Bond, Artisha Cantu, Jeremy Castaneda, Erica Cumpian, Brianna Garcia, Brandon Hamby and Rebecca Munoz.
In McMullen County, Valedictorian Joseph Stanley, Salutatorian Ashely Lewis, Cody Bond, Kyle Engelking, Amanda Flores and Jasmyn Smith are the honor graduates.
The Valedictorians and Salutatorian’s biographies of their accomplishments over the past four years are featured from each school in our area.
Gabriella Gonzales Valedictorian
This year’s Valedictorian for the class of 2013 is Gabriella Gonzales.
She is the daughter of Jose L. and Laura Gonzales.
Gabriella plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the fall as a Pre- Med major. At PHS, she was a member of the National Honor Society, the Gifted and Talented program, Student Council, and the Pleasanton School Health/Safe and Drug Free School’s Advisory Council.
She participated in varsity track, cross country and UIL academic events. Gabriella earned first place in UIL editorial writing and second place in feature writing. Gabriella is co-editor of the school newspaper, The Quill, and is an avid participant in the school’s art program.
Emily Collins Salutatorian
This year’s Salutatorian for the class of 2013 is Emily Collins.
She is the daughter of Ronald Collins and the late Susan Jones. Emily came to Pleasanton in 2011 from Jackson, Tennessee.
While at PHS, Emily was co-editor of the school newspaper, The Quill, a member of the National Honor Society and member of the UIL academic team.
Emily is also an accomplished musician. She has been playing the piano since age 4 along with the ukulele, trombone and guitar. She is a member of the Pleasanton High School Choir and the National Piano Guild.
Emily also participates in live reenactments of the Civil War Era throughout Texas and other states. She is an avid reader and plans to major in journalism at the University of Texas in Austin this coming fall.
Austin Darrow Valedictorian
Austin Darrow is this year’s Jourdanton High School Valedictorian.
The son of Ric and Tisha Darrow, he is sixth of ten children. His family moved from Florida to Texas nearly seven years ago.
Darrow is graduating with a grade point average of 3.98. Along with being Valedictorian of his class, Darrow is also JHS Senior Class President, Captain of the Jourdanton Drumline and Co-Captain of the Varsity Winterguard. He is a member of Yearbook Productions, National Honor Society, Theatre One-Act, UIL, and the Spanish Club.
Darrow will be attending the University of Texas at Austin next fall and will be majoring in International Relations and Global Studies, with a minor in a foreign language. He will be a part of the Marine Corps ROTC program there and will commission as a Second Lieutenant Officer into the United States Marine Corps after he receives his Bachelor’s degree.
Cody Johnston Salutatorian
Jourdanton High School Salutatorian is Cody Johnston.
He was born Sept. 6, 1994, to Alan and Tracy Johnston. He has lived and attended school in Jourdanton his entire life.
Upon entering high school, Johnston began to participate in a wide array of extra-curricular activities such as basketball, track and field, theatre production, UIL Prose Interpretation, UIL One Act Play, and UIL Current events; he is also a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars.
He has achieved a Varsity letter for track and field, multiple awards for All Star Cast in UIL One Act Play contest, District Champion in Prose Interpretation, and is a member of the UIL Current Events team, which is advancing to State competition.
Cody plans to attend the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Mathematics. After graduating from the University, he aspires to become a college professor of math.
Samantha Mikolajczyk Valedictorian
The Poteet High School Valedictorian for 2013 is Samantha Mikolajczyk, daughter of Kyle Mikolajczyk and Laura Veteto Mikolajczyk. She is graduating with a 3.8 grade point average.
She holds an extensive list of awards and honors such as: Citizenship Award, Student of the Month, Regional Golf qualifier, Wintergarden District 2nd Place Milk Quality Individual, Voice of Democracy 1st Place winner, Milk Quality State qualifier, recognized at board meeting for Top Two Individuals, Poteet Strawberry Festival Association Duchess, Taste of Texas Food Show Grand Champion of the Teen Division, Who’s Who Among American High School Students nominee and National Young Scholars Program nominee.
Among her co-curricular activities: Dual Credit Student, Advanced Placement Student, Pre-AP Student and Student Peer Mentor.
Her work experience includes serving as a Hermann Sons Youth Camp Junior Counselor for two weeks and as a Poteet ISD student aide for 10-15 hours a week.
The extracurricular activities she participated in during her high school career are: Interact Club President, FFA Secretary, FFA Chaplain, FFA Reporter, National Honor Society Vice President, Varsity Golf, Debate Team, Prom Committee Chairperson, Class of 2013 Vice President, 4-H Club 2nd Vice President, FCCLA President, Texas FFA Chronicle Staff, Spanish Club, Hermann Sons Youth Camp Junior Counselor, Taste of Texas Food Show participant, San Antonio Livestock Show exhibitor, Atascosa Livestock Show exhibitor, Atascosa County Fair exhibitor, Triple L Prospect Show exhibitor, Atascosa Juniors Club Volleyball and Science Club.
Samantha’s community service involvement includes: Santa Sack (two years), Pennies for Patients (three years), Adopt a Grandparent (two years), National Honor Society Blood Drive volunteer (three years), Trick-or- Treat for Canned Goods (two years), after school mentor, Poteet FFA Strawberry Festival soda booth volunteer (five years), Poteet Buyers Club Strawberry Festival booth volunteer (three years), Poteet FFA concession stand volunteer (four years), Interact Strawberry Festival booth volunteer (two years), Atascosa County Fair volunteer, Culinary Arts Club volunteer, National Honor Society STBTC Blood Drive donor (five donations), National Honor Society Pennies for Patients donation volunteer, Soldier Care packages nursing home gifts, NHS/Interact jacket donation, Relay for Life coin collection, set up for volleyball scrimmages, CAM donations and helped with handing out food for CAM, setting up pens for Atascosa County Fair and Atascosa Show Barn clean up.
She plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in Civil Engineering.
Emily Akers Salutatorian
Emily Akers, Poteet’s Salutatorian, is the daughter of Debbie and Jason Akers.
Her extra-curricular activities include: Poteet FFA for all four years serving as Chapter Sentinel and Chapter Treasurer. She has played volleyball for three years serving as captain in 2012.
She was a varsity golf member for three years and was a member of National Honor Society also for three years serving as Treasurer. She is also a member of the
Spanish Club and was the Class Treasurer for two years.
Emily was also a member of the Student Council and the Prom Committee.
As a member of Poteet 4-H since 2004, she has held the offices of Parliamentarian 2009-2010, 4-H Treasurer (2010-2012), 4-H Historian (2012-2013)
Emily is a member of the Poteet First Baptist Church and volunteered at the Vacation Bible School, Fall Festival booths and Back to School Bash.
Her other community involvement includes helping with the Elementary Fall Festival, Blood Drive, Santa Sack, FFA Football Concession Stand, FFA/Rotary Soda Booth and the Canned Food Drive.
Her academic honors and achievements include being named Student of the Month, Student Spotlight, recipient of the PLAN Award, and academic scholarship from Texas A&M University. She has been on the All A Honor Rolls in 2011 and 2012 and the A, B Honor Rolls in 2010 and 2013.
She was a member of the State qualifying Range team for three years and Horse Judging team in 2013. She is also a recipient of the Lone Star Degree and All-District Honorable Mention, plus was a member of the All-District 2nd Team. She also received the Aggie Pride Award in 2012 and 2013.
Emily will be attending Texas A&M University majoring in Civil Engineering.
Kelli Mann Valedictorian
Kelli Mann, daughter of Jimmy and Lauren Mann, will graduate as Valedictorian of Charlotte High School with a GPA of 97.7. She has maintained this class rank since her freshman year.
During her junior and senior years, she took dual credit classes through Palo Alto College, earning 18 hours. Kelli is graduating as a Distinguished graduate and will be attending Mary Hardin-Baylor University where she will be majoring in Biology and work towards a Master’s Degree in medicine.
While a student at Charlotte High School, Kelli served as class president all 4 years and has been a member of the Student Council, band, volleyball team, golf team, track and cross country team. During her senior year, she became an active member of the FFA and qualified for State in Farm Business Management. She also served as the vice president in National Honor Society, where she participated in community service projects such as blood drives and school beautification projects. She participated in UIL Academic contests throughout high school in Math, Science and Ready Writing.
Some of Kelli’s happiest moments in high school were spent with the Charlotte FBC Youth Group. While learning about God and strengthening her faith, she also accompanied the church on various recreational functions and mission trips.
Rebecca Ann Pesqueda Salutatorian
Rebecca Ann Pesqueda, daughter of Andres and Juanita Pesqueda, will graduate as this year’s Salutatorian from Charlotte High School. She has ranked in the top 10% of her class since her freshman year. She will be a Distinguished Graduate, having taken dual credit classes her junior and senior years through Palo Alto Community College, earning a total of 18 college credit hours.
During her time at Charlotte High School, Rebecca participated in a variety of extracurricular activities while serving as her class vice president for all four years. She was an actor in UIL One Act Play and a member of the Theatre Arts class her senior year, where she earned the Honorable Mention All-Star Cast Award for her performance as Lady Bracknell in the production of “The Importance of Being Ernest”. She was a member of the Mighty Trojan Band for three years, being selected as the band’s President her junior year. Since her freshman year, she’s been a participant of the UIL Academic Team, competing in the Ready Writing Competition and Journalism competitions: Feature and Headline Writing. As a sophomore she placed 3rd in District in the Feature Writing competition which qualified her for the Regional UIL Meet held in Brenham. She was also an editor of the Trojan Yearbook Staff her junior and senior years at Charlotte High School. She’s been a member of the Student Council since her junior year and was appointed Secretary her senior year.
As an Honor Student, she had the privilege of becoming a member of Charlotte High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society during her junior year. As a senior she was selected by her advisor as the chapter’s treasurer. She was also voted for Best Smile by her peers as well as the 2013 Prom Queen. Rebecca was also a member of the Charlotte Trojan Cheer leading Squad her sophomore and senior years. As an athlete, Rebecca was a part of the volleyball team all four years, softball team her freshman and senior year, and the track and field team her senior year.
Rebecca has been an active youth member of the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Charlotte as she is considered a Youth Leader of the church’s youth group. She’s also been a Catechist Assistant throughout her junior and senior years, helping assist the first grade class.
In the fall, she will be attending the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor where she plans to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications as well as studying Christian Missions. After college, she plans to pursue a career in the field of Journalism.
Joseph Stanley Valedictorian
Joseph Stanley is the 2013 V–aledictorian for McMullen County High School in Tilden. His parents are Elvia Stanley and William Stanley.
Throughout his high school career, Stanley participated in these extracurricular activities: Varsity Tennis, Varsity Track and Field, Varsity Cross Country, UIL, NHS president, FFA vice president, Spanish Club, Yearbook Committee and 4-H.
His list of awards he has earned include: two-time State qualifier in UIL Poetry Interpretation, Regional qualifier in UIL Accounting, three-time State Finals qualifier in Agricultural Issues Forum LDE and two-time Regional alternate in tennis.
The scholarships he has received are: Presidential Achievement Scholarship, State Top Ten Percent Scholarship and the Ford Trucks Built Ford Tough Scholarship. The rest will be given at graduation.
Stanley plans to attend the Red McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin to major in Accounting.
Ashely Lewis Salutatorian
The McMullen County High School salutatorian for the Class of 2013 is Ashely Lewis. She is the daughter of Robert and Kristy Lewis. She has a grade point average of 95.35.
Extracurricular activities that Lewis took part in are: FFA Chapter secretary, Gateway District FFA secretary, Gateway District FFA treasurer, UIL, National Honor Society secretary, Spanish club, Varsity Basketball, Track and Field, Yearbook, Tilden Baptist Church youth group member, World Changers Mission Trip participant.
Lewis received the following awards during high school: Lonestar FFA Degree recipient, Regional UIL Qualifier (Literary Criticism, Computer Applications).
She has received these scholarships: Atascosa County Farm Bureau and the National FFA Tractor Supply -Growing Scholars. Local scholarships will be given out at graduation.
Her college plans are to attend Blinn College in Brenham then transfer to Texas A&M University and major in Ag Business.