The Tribune-Herald presents the third and final installment of the top high school graduates in McLennan County this year. Previous groups were also showcased June 2 and June 9.
Graduates are presented in alphabetical order by school. Not all schools provided information or photographs.
(Editor’s note: The top graduates for Methodist Children’s Home are being presented again due to an editing error in last Sunday’s group.)
Valedictorian • Deanna Hopkins
Parents: Kimberly Hopkins and James Hopkins
Plans: Attend Upper Iowa University on a bowling scholarship. Will major in forensic science and mathematics to pursue a career in criminal case solving.
Achievements: Board of Trustees Scholarship at Upper Iowa University ($18,500); Bowling Athletic Scholarship at Upper Iowa University; Soldiers of the Wooden Cross Scholarship; Texas 500/600 Bowling Club scholarship.
Salutatorian • Natali Perez
Parents: Jaime Perez and Fidelina Perez
Plans: Attend McLennan Community College, then transfer to Texas Tech to earn bachelor’s degree in biology. Plans to attend medical school to become an anesthesiologist.
Achievements: UIL theater awards, including “best technical technician” at the regional level; cheer captain; class president (3 years); AVID program; Theatre Booster Club Award scholarship; Karen Davila Memorial Scholarship.
METHODIST CHILDREN’S HOME
Valedictorian • Arianna Yingst
Parent: Diane Daly
Plans: Serve a year at Americorps in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, working with at-risk youth before pursuing college.
Achievements: Council of Residential Education Student of the Year (2018); Charles W. & Mariam Hawes Academic Excellence Award; MCH Scholarship; first place in employment portfolio in Skills USA for Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy; completed OSHA 10 and residential coding certifications at GWAMA.
Salutatorian • Deborah Yisihak
Family: Berhanu Gola (uncle)
Plans: Attend the University of Texas in Arlington to study public health.
Achievements: Charles W. & Mariam Hawes Academic Excellence Award; Albaugh Scholarship; earned CNA certification from Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy; Student Leadership Council; Bulldog Pride member.
Valedictorian • Brian Kleibrink
Parents: Karen Kleibrink and Ken Jemmott
Plans: Attend Texas State Technical College and pursue an associate’s degree in computer science.
Achievements: Volunteered at a nursing home; learned how to cook; learned how to build a computer.
Salutatorian • Alan Dela Rosa
Parents: Margarito and Irma Dela Rosa
Plans: Attend McLennan Community College and earn an associate’s degree in general business. Plans to return to college and major in international affairs.
Achievements: Honor student; early graduate.
Valedictorian • Paula Ortiz
Parents: Jesus and Nora Ortiz
Plans: Attend Texas A&M University, majoring in allied health. Upon graduation, wants to pursue a career in health care administration.
Achievements: Texas A&M University Regents Scholar Program and scholarship recipient; Waco NAACP Scholarship; Waco ISD Academic Achiever (3 years); Texas A&M Century Scholars Program and scholarship recipient; Future Business Leaders of America president.
Salutatorian • Savanna Vidana
Parents: Jose and Tisha Vidana
Plans: Already earned associate’s degree in general academics through MCC. Will attend University of Texas to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology and work as a child and family therapist.
Achievements: Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship; Waco Public Schools Alumni Association Scholarship; coach with Little League Challenger Division; head cheer coach with No Limitations program; Key Club president.
VALLEY MILLS HIGH
Valedictorian • Matalynn Thayer
Parents: Joshua and Maggie Thayer
Plans: Attend Honors College at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to study marketing.
Achievements: Senior drum major of the Class 2A UIL State Marching Band gold medalists (2018); lead actress in UIL One-Act Play; National Honor Society president; student council secretary; Waco Rotary Club Outstanding Youth Citizenship Award nominee (2019).
Salutatorian • McKenzie Sexton
Parents: Michael and Tracy Sexton
Plans: Attend Texas Tech University and major in pre-nursing.
Achievements: Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship; Texas Tech Academic Scholarship; A honor roll; cheer captain; Jerry French Scholarship.
VANGUARD COLLEGE PREPARATORY
Vanguard Academic Excellence • Ria Goyal
Parent: Vibha Goyal (mother)
Plans: Attend the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and Bachelor of Arts in the Plan II Honors Program.
Achievements: National Merit Finalist; President’s Volunteer Gold Service Award; TAPPS solo violin Superior rating (10th, 12th); TAPPS academics top chemistry medalist, first in science (12th); named to Outstanding Young Women in Chemistry.
Editor’s note: Vanguard recognizes only one top graduate.
Valedictorian • Olivia Henderson
Parents: Ron and Charlotte Henderson
Plans: Study in the Canfield Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.
Achievements: Dorothy Crippen Hurd Scholarship; National Honor Society (3 years); Waco ISD Academic Achiever (3 years); Waco High Mock Trial Team (4 years); AP Scholar with Honor; varsity tennis (4 years); Waco Youth Council (2 years).
Salutatorian • Rachael Stephens
Parents: Matt and Ashley Stephens
Plans: Study business at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. She is one of 13 new members of the 2019-20 UT “White Squad,” an all-girl cheerleading team.
Achievements: National Honor Society (3 years); Waco ISD Academic Achiever (3 years); Waco High Mock Trial Team (4 years); AP Scholar with Honor; Waco High Show Choir and Waco High Chamber Choir; Heart of Texas competitive cheerleader (4 years).
Valedictorian • Toby Cook
Parents: Donny and Charlene Cook
Plans: Attend Texas A&M University with a focus on business.
Achievements: Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship; HILCO Scholarship; all-district first team in football; Super Centex honorable mention in football (defense); Destination Imagination (first in state, advanced to globals).
Salutatorian • Kain Klish
Parents: Jason and Hope Klish
Plans: Attend McLennan Community College, then transfer to either Tarleton State in Waco or Texas A&M for bachelor’s in either criminal justice or political science. Afterward, attend law school.
Achievements: All-district football second-team tailback (2017) and honorable mention (2018); Nick and Nick Memorial Scholarship; UIL science team regional qualifier (2017); UIL Scholar Award recipient.
The Tribune-Herald presents the second installment of the top high school graduates in McLennan County this year. The final group will be show…