Every year, schools across the United States honor the top two students for finishing first and second in their graduating class’s academic rankings. This year, YES Prep was excited to celebrate, in person, these 29 students at our annual Val+Sal Banquet, which took place on May 31 at YES Prep Home Office’s Spindletop. Special thanks to Univision 45's news anchor Osvaldo Corral for serving as the evening's honorary master of ceremony.
The Val+Sal Banquet not only honors the students for their achievements but also celebrates these students’ families who, without their support, would not be among the top-performing students at YES Prep Public Schools.
For the past two school years, we have been unable to host the banquet due to COVID-19, and our seniors have worked and persisted in continuing to succeed despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. For this reason, we are especially proud to have been able to gather all our valedictorians and salutatorians in order to celebrate each one of them at the banquet.
Valedictorian - Diamon Williams
Diamon Williams is a member of the National Honor Society, the dance team and the track and field team. She also works part-time and is an active member of a majorette dance team outside of school. One of her main passions is learning about aquatic life and preparing to major in Marine Biology at Savannah State University. Diamon recently was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa scholarship, and we anticipate more scholarships on her horizon.
Salutatorian - María Martinez
Maria Martinez is a member of the National Honor Society and a dedicated staff member for the first Southside yearbook. Maria has a lofty goal of doing animation for Pixar or Disney. She will be taking her talents to Sam Houston State University, where she will study Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects.
Valedictorian – Emely Martinez
Emily Martinez has remained number one in her class for all four years at Eisenhower. Emely is a member of the Eisenhower band and plays on the golf team. Outside of school, Emily served as the secretary of her church’s youth group. Emily will be a first-generation college student attending the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a degree in Architecture and Interior Design. She has received multiple institutional scholarships from UTSA, and the Phi Beta Kappa Association Scholarship.
Salutatorian – Samanta Guzman
Samantha Guzman led Eisenhower’s golf team to regionals, the first time the school has ever had this accomplishment. Samantha also led Ike’s band as a section leader. Moreover, Samantha completed over 200 hours of community service and held leadership within her church. Samantha will be joining her sister at Texas Tech University, majoring in history.
WHITE OAK SECONDARY
Valedictorian – Alyzadia Hernandez
Alyzadia “Aly” Hernandez has taken leadership roles in both the Humanitarian Society and Student Council. She has been awarded academic awards such as Principal List, Owl Standing Student Award and an English 2 Academic Award for exceptional growth and performance. She has been awarded the Valuable Agent of Change award, Certification of Appreciation from the Patriotic American League, Certificate of Recognition from the City of Houston. Aly plans to attend Trinity University in San Antonio.
Salutatorian – Bryan Duarte
Bryan Duarte has been involved with senior leadership and was awarded the Owl-Standing student award which highlights students who go above and beyond in the classroom to show leadership, innovation and drive. Bryan plans to attend the University of Houston - Main Campus and study Atmospheric Sciences.
Valedictorian – Luis Calderon
Luis Calderon’s schedule has been filled with honors and AP courses, has made the honor roll several years in a row, is a member of Northbrook Honor Society and will be graduating summa cum laude. Luis is also a QuestBridge Scholar and will be attending the University of Notre Dame to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
Salutatorian – Stephanie Flores Catalan
Stephanie Flores Catalan is part of the Student Council, was president of the National Honor Society, and collaborated with the Spring Branch Independent School District board to help plan Spring Branch’s 75th-anniversary event. Stephanie has been offered over $500,000 in scholarships and will be able to attend George Washington University, where she plans to major in biology in order to go into the medical field and one day become a general surgeon.
FIFTH WARD SECONDARY
Co-valedictorian - Marco Nava
Co-valedictorian – Aneth Saldierna
Aneth Saldierna was the Senior Class President in the spring semester and raised over $6,000 for the class budget in four months. In the fall, Aneth will be starting her freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin.
Salutatorian – Emilio Reyes Linares
Emilio Reyes Linares held after-school calculus tutorials for his classmates two times a week this past school year. He was also the only student to earn a 5 in the entire district on the last AP calculus common assessment and scored the highest SAT score ever at Fifth Ward, thus far. Emilio served as the vice president of the National Honor Society. He became a QuestBridge Summer Scholar his junior year and is now a University of Houston, Terry Scholar who will attend the Honors College at the University of Houston.
Valedictorian – Daniel Lau
Salutatorian – Silvia Vazquez
Silvia Vazquez is one of the hardest working students Northside has seen. At the last minute, she took the number 2 spot, and her dedication to working hard paid off. She is often seen on campus attacking complicated Calculus problems or peer editing papers of her classmates, all while being a part of National Honor Society and having straight A’s since sixth grade. Silvia will be heading to Rhodes College in the fall.
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Valedictorian – Marcela Hinojosa Almaraz
Marcela Hinojosa Almaraz is driven and has a true passion to change the world of access and mobility by creating innovative and affordable wheelchairs once she finishes her engineering studies at the University of Rochester. This desire stems from witnessing the amount of pain that her brother has had to endure during his recovery from a virus that caused paralysis.
Salutatorian – Axel Rustrian
Axel Rustrian is a proud National Honor Society member who also dabbles in karate on the weekends. He is an inquisitive and respectful student that has a pervasive voice during class, he is a hard worker and an extremely driven young man. Axel loves math and science and will be an engineering major in the fall at Texas A&M University.
BRAYS OAKS SECONDARY
Valedictorian – Joana Aranda
Joana Aranda has a 4.6 GPA, received the QuestBridge and Dell scholarships and has excelled on the basketball court, leading her team to a District Championship this year. Joana was a member of Student Government and a member of the GSA. Joana now heads off to Colby College in the fall.
Salutatorian – Nathalie Villasenor
Nathalie Villasenor has a 4.6 cumulative GPA, has taken almost every AP course offered at our school and continues to look for learning opportunities to push her growth, including studying Mandarin virtually. Nathalie is very involved in student organizations. Nathalie has also prioritized volunteering at different local organizations, including the Houston Food Bank. She will be majoring in Architecture next year as a QuestBridge Scholar at the University of Notre Dame.
Valedictorian – Fabritcio Orozco
Fabritcio Orozco earned acceptance into seven IMPACT schools. He earned the highest SAT score for the class of 2022, participated in the National Hispanic Recognition Program and he is our highest scholarship earner with almost $800,000 in scholarships! Fabritcio has many awards and honors including competing as a semi-finalist in the Marshall Brennan Constitutional Project, and Suma Cum Laude Honor Roll, every year. He was in the National Honor Society, Student Leadership Council, Duke TIP, and volunteered at the Houston Area Women’s Center. In the fall, he will be attending John Hopkins University.
Salutatorian – Heily Miranda
Heily Miranda has earned acceptances to five IMPACT schools, she is the recipient of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Scholarship, and her entire scholarship earnings total more than $600,000! She has participated in the National Honor Society, Orchestra, Senior Leadership Council and even found time to serve as the editor for her neighborhood newspaper. She has been on the Suma Cum Laude Honor Roll every year and participated in the Duke Tip program. Heily will also be attending Johns Hopkins in the fall!
Valedictorian – Daniela Nadine Chaclan Acosta
Daniela Chaclan Acosta was selected for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program in Russia her freshman year. At the end of her sophomore year, she was selected to be our district representative at the School for Ethics and Global Leadership in Washington, DC. While enrolled IN SEGL, she had the opportunity to attend the state funeral of Justice Ruth Bater Ginsberg. Danielle was selected as 1 of 300 Gates Millenium Scholarships in the United States. Daniela will be heading to Yale this fall.
Salutatorian – Leonardo Andrade
Leonardo Andrade served as the Student Council Co-President. He was an amazing leader, from the spirit weeks to blood drives, he was always willing to go above and beyond. Leo was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin’s McComb School of Business. He was selected as one of the first Forty Acres Scholars in YES Prep’s history. Forty Acres is a merit-based, full-ride scholarship and leadership development program administered by the Texas Exes. His intent is to become a millionaire by the age of 30.
EAST END SECONDARY
Valedictorian – Sergio Martinez
Sergio Martinez was involved in the Men’s Varsity Volleyball Team, was part of the Senior Student Class Council, Spanish Honor Society, UT Health Careers Collaborative and SOLX and has taken 11 AP Courses. Sergio will be attending Yale University as a QuestBridge Scholar in the fall.
Salutatorian – Jose Onate
Jose Onate exemplifies the qualities of an excellent student, someone who works hard day in and out, is kind to others, and is courageous when facing any challenges. He has spent endless hours studying and completing homework to maintain his Honor Roll Status. In the fall, Jose plans to attend the University of Houston.
Valedictorian – Des Gil
Des Gil is a Questbridge scholar and attended several STEM Summer Camps while in middle school and on into early high school, as well as attending YES Prep’s IMPACT Institute. Des is a recipient of a YES Prep Alumni Scholarship and the Rowlinson Scholarship. Des is on a four-year pathway, with a focus on Psychology, and plans to become a Clinical Psychologist. She will be attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Salutatorian – Larry Mejia
Larry Mejia has modeled leadership through his participation in the Growing Peace Project and student council. Larry pursued several scholarship opportunities this past year. He served as Student Council Treasurer, National Honor Society member, and founder of the Game Stop Club to continue to lead during his college education. Larry will be attending Austin College where he will study Computer Science and Marketing.
NORTH CENTRAL SECONDARY
Valedictorian – Kyan Nandlal
Kyan Nandlal has taken 8 of 11 AP offered at our school. Kyan tapped into his entrepreneurial skills and started his technology business, repairing smartphones and computers and building computers. Kyan spends hours each week supporting the billing practices at his aunt's dental office. Kyan is a YES Student Ambassador (YSA). He started two clubs, the music club that allowed students to share their musical talent, and the Sports Stream Team (SST) to record sporting events for the school. In the fall, Kyan will attend Rice University. Kyan and plans to explore the world of business and pursue his juris doctorate degree
Salutatorian – Alondra Rivera
Alondra Rivera is a decorated cross-country runner and served as a Momentum Student Leader, which is an ambassador for the platform that we share with our students as a resource for scholarships and student opportunities. She also served as captain of the basketball team, is a member of the National Honor Society, and a student council member. Alondra will be attending college on a full-ride scholarship to Rice University as a QuestBridge scholar. She aims to become an anesthesiologist or surgeon.
Valedictorian – Fernanda Ivana Villalva-Moreno
Fernanda Ivana Villalva-Moreno speaks with conviction and leaves everything better than she found it – spaces, relationships, people. She has served our community as an ambassador and beams when she speaks about our campus and our students. She transforms on the soccer field and becomes a beacon for her team. While she has had many challenges herself, this has not stopped her from being physically and emotionally present for her classmates. Fernanda will be attending Duke University as a QuestBridge Scholar and hopes to study global health or neuroscience on the pre-med track.
Salutatorian – Gabriela Flores
Gabriela Flores leads quietly and with grace – she is not a voice you often hear but when she speaks others engage. Recipient of highly coveted scholarships such as Houston Rodeo and Strong Family Foundation, Gaby leaves to the University of Virginia fully funded. As a future female engineer, Gaby will trailblaze through the profession and pave the path for those to follow.
Congratulations to this year's valedictorians and salutatorians. We wish them continued success in this next step of their life.