Rylee Mullen

Rylee Mullen, left, receives her medal of achievement as a member of the Cleburne High School Top Ten Percent during a surprise porch presentation by Assistant Principal Kimberly Gonzalez. Principal Ben Renner and his administrative team made personal visits to the 40 seniors serving as the academic leaders of the Class of 2020, who will be the first to receive their diplomas at home plate during Sunday’s graduation at Globe Life Field.

The recognition of the Cleburne High School Top Ten Percent came in a different form this year — but had the same results — with the academic leaders of the Class of 2020 being honored as their parents looked on with pride.

Principal Ben Renner and his team of assistant administrators made surprise porch presentations over two days involving the 40 seniors making up Cleburne’s Top Ten Percent. Leading the list of academic class leaders are Valedictorian Victor Salgado, who finishes his four years at CHS with a GPA of 4.464, and Salutatorian London Walker, with a 4.402.

Members of the top ten percent also include Francisco Alcala, Brock Barbee, Nicholas Barlow, Nathan Barnes, Merari Balmares-Rodriguez, Jackson Brady, Charles Carroll, Truett Childress, Kambree Coates, Austin Cook, Nick Crawford, Jake Dobbins, Chloe Eichholtz, Audrey Fenn, Ally Faulk, Maci Geltmeier, Alyssa Graf, Cason Gregory, Rylea Green, Wesley Hillis, Olivia Hunt, Robinson Jack, Nichole Lares, Kaden Layland, Rudy Lopez, Belle Mahaffey, Maggie Marshall, Joshua Morales, Rylee Mullen, John Paul Nguyen, Raeann Ortiz, Fernando Pedroza Lopez, Cesly Rodriguez, Gracie Walker, Elspeth Wallace, Reese Williams, Blake Wilson and Perla Zamora. 

Each honoree received certificates of merit and the award medals and honor stoles to be included in their graduation regalia at commencement exercises at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Globe Life Field, the new home of the Texas Rangers. 

As academic leaders, they will be the first to step to home plate to receive their diplomas, followed by the fellow members of their senior class. 

The porch presentations also included pen and pencil sets inscribed with the Latin phrase “in omnia paratus” — prepared for anything — from Pinnacle Bank, annual sponsor of the Honor Graduates Breakfast recognizing members of the Top Ten Percent and their parents. The event is traditionally held the morning of graduation.

“We were very sad at not being able to meet in person and have the Honor Graduates Breakfast,” Pinnacle Bank Branch Manager Amber Witte said. “We were so pleased the high school administrators were able to deliver the Top Ten Percent medals in person and take our gifts as well. All of us at Pinnacle Bank are very proud of the perseverance of the Class of 2020.”

While parents and guardians were notified of the planned presentations, the honorees were intentionally caught by surprise. With photos taken at each stop, several stepped back inside the house for a quick hair comb — or the donning of a ball cap.

“It was supposed to be a surprise, but my mom knew I would want to be presentable, so she gave me a little advance warning,” London Walker said. “Their visit was really personal. What’s really special to me, is this was the second visit to my house by Mr. Renner. I was truly surprised with the signs of congratulations and letters spelling out ‘salutatorian’ which the high school had placed in my front yard. Then to come back again with my Top Ten Percent medal was just the coolest thing. I’m very grateful they took the time to do all this.

“Mr. Renner came at the end of our junior year, so this was really my first year with him. He has been so involved with all of us, attending our band concerts and events and taking the time get to know us. I’ve really liked having him as a principal.”

The porch presentations were just as meaningful to the high school administrators according to Assistant Principal Kimberly Gonzalez, who joined the campus faculty this year. 

“I loved the opportunity to surprise the kids,” Gonzalez said. “This was the first contact we have had with our students since school let out on March 13. To see the reaction from the kids and their parents was pretty cool. You could tell from a lot of them that the effort to personally deliver and present their awards touched their hearts. They were moved that we took the time.

“I’m so thankful we did this. On Thursday night, we had a parking lot awards ceremony, with everyone staying in their cars and tuning into a special radio frequency as we announced the names of honorees. We would not have had the opportunity to personally congratulate these kids on their academic achievements had we not made the visits.”

The finale recognition of the 402 members of the CHS Class of 2020 will be streamed Sunday morning beginning at 9:30 a.m., live from Globe Life Field. The link to view — c-isd.com/live — can also be accessed from the CISD website and social media postings.

 

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