Top Ten Scholars honored at Aldine ISD ceremony

By Mike Keeney

Aldine ISD held its fifth annual Superintendent’s Top 10 Scholars Celebration this spring in the Foyer of the M.O. Campbell Educational Center.

The event is held annually to recognize the Top 10 scholars at each of the district’s 10 high schools.

The Top 10 Scholars were treated to ice cream and received medals to signify their standing as the top academic achievers at their respective high schools.

The students were also given the opportunity to share with the audience what college or university they will attend and what they plan to major in.

Chief of Staff Sheleah Reed delivered the welcome and congratulated the seniors for their hard work to reach Top 10 status in their respective classes.

“This is truly a special event, and I am so excited that we can gather to celebrate the academic accomplishments of our outstanding scholars,” Reed said. “Graduation is right around the corner, and a new journey is about to begin. As you go along your new journey, please keep us informed of the amazing things you are doing in the future so we can brag on. You and share your successes with our students and community.”

Reed then introduced Yvonne Lopez, a 2005 graduate of Carver High School who attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and is now pursuing a Master’s of Education. She currently serves Aldine ISD as an elementary visual arts teacher and was named the 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year and the 2021 Region 4 Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Lopez shared with the current Top 10 students that she too was a Top 10 scholar at Carver High School. She said she enjoyed competing with her peers academically and developed friendships that still remain today.

“The people we grow up with and compete with can become some of the most important people in our lives,” Lopez said. “From my class Top 10, I’m still great friends with a few of them.”

Lopez challenged this year’s Top 10 students to work hard and do not be deterred if roadblocks occur along the way.

She had some ups and downs during her academic career, but she forged ahead thanks to her determination to succeed and because of her supportive parents.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned from my supportive parents is that failure is OK,” she said. “I felt the pressure from my family to work hard, do the best, and be the best. When I got to college, everyone in my class was the best. We continued to work hard but not all of us made our dream happen. After a few years of part-time jobs at ad agencies, freelance art work, and retail life, my sister said I needed to stop living the starving artist life and come home. I moved back to Houston and began to substitute teach in Aldine and fell in love with teaching.

“Just remember to always be yourself. Be true to you. Be you. Do you. Do not let others dull your shine as you take on the world. Learn how to grow to become your authentic self. Do not be afraid to let others see you and hear you.”

Following Lopez’s remarks, Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney addressed the Top 10 Scholars and shared with them the importance of the medals they received at the event.

“The medal you are wearing now symbolizes your hard work and dedication,” Dr. Goffney said. “It reminds me of a quote that I go back to often that has served me well when I need a bit of motivation or just a push in the right direction: “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

“You all understand this because you’ve sacrificed many nights doing what you had to do – like all-night study sessions to pass a test or finish a project – to be where you are today. You understand that reaching a goal requires hard work and dedication – and that it isn’t always fun or easy. I’ve been there. I understand. Like you, I was an earnest and hard-working student. My grandparents, Big Mamma and Papa, encouraged education and wanted me to work hard so I could go somewhere and do something with my life and I wanted to make them proud. In fact, I kept the middle initial “M” for my maiden name, McGowen, as a reminder of the sacrifices and support they gave me as I grew up. As a first-generation college student, I was all business, all work, all the time. And thanks to that work ethic, I graduated from Coldspring-Oakhurst at the top of my class.”

While Dr. Goffney challenged the Top 10 Scholars to work hard, she also encouraged them to enjoy their journey.

“Make memories. Take advantage of every opportunity to be involved – student government, choir, sports, etc. Try it all! And most importantly, finish! Live your best life and have fun. Congratulations on a job well done on behalf of myself, our Board of Trustees, and the administration team.”

The Top 10 Scholars from each Aldine ISD high school are:

•Steven Tran
•Kamila Pichardo
•Leyla Arriaga
•Brandon Tran
•Olexzondra Upshaw
•Destiny Ipina
•Jameleth Palma
•Isabel Denova
•Izelliah Sanchez
•Ariel Navia

•Elaine Amaly Villeda
•Cirilo Cancino
•Briseida Sanchez
•Cecilia Rivera
•Sebastian Rodriguez
•Giselle Campa
•Celeste Rivera
•Aaron Cebrero
•Miguel Cuevas
•Berenise Salinas

•Cristina Juarez
•Kaiden Johnnie
•Colin Li Ming Bouakeovilay
•Dominique Morillo
•Juan David Victorino-Beltran
•Monica Diaz
•Dawn Abigail Bas Cabalquinto
•Renee Valdez Rinosa
•Yahaira Marcela Hernandez

•Juniper Boehler
•Itzel Fernandez
•Sydney Page
•Takera Swain
•Alexsandra Martinez
•Jade Jimenez
•Tatiana Smith
•Gabriela Pacheco-Pena
•Taniah Corbin
•Justin Tobias, Jr.

•Cardin Tran
•Francis Dinh
•Alice Conghuyen
•Elaine Phan
•Luniqua Louis
•Carolina Guajardo
•Phong Tchi
•Johan Fuentes
•Jessica Sorn
•Maria Velasquez Iguaran

•Mai Phuong Le
•Minh Phuong Le
•Christian Gabriel Acosta Zuniga
•Jeriah Garcia
•William Villanueva
•Gabriel Villafana
•Veronica Macias
•Paul Okunuga
•Jorge Lara
•Melissa Mora

•Morgan Starks
•Betsayda Barradas
•J’Don Melendez
•Asia Criswell
•Ashari Nelms
•Erick Gomez
•Pedro Savala
•Madison Evans
•Ann Calderon
•Yamileth Castro

•Rafael Vazquez
•Aritzi Martinez
•Michael Guevara
•Shoniya Murphy
•Noe Carrillo
•Khalil Chambers
•Marlene Andrade
•Lisa Hernandez
•Estefani Orozco
•Josue Rebolloso

•Monique Thompson
•Sebastian Soto
•Kevin Valenzuela
•Aseel Elmansori
•Darren Muise
•Musa Kpinkpin
•Toan Nguyen
•Ethan Sims
•Valerie Vega
•Tori Desana-Calhoun White

•Karol Garcia
•Veronica Hernandez
•Aby Cortez
•Jayla Palmer
•Ana Estrada
•Karolynn Figueroa
•Kiandra Neal
•Edgar Morales
•Chelsea Mathis
•Amy Balderas

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