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Saltillo ISD Top Students Recognized

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Saltillo ISD last week recognized the top senior and junior high students during special awards programs, prior to graduation at the end of the week.

Junior High

Ethan Sexton and Michael Gonzalez were recognized as the Saltillo Junior High valeditorian and salutatorian.

Sexton finished at the top of his class with a 95.84375 grade point average and Gonzalez was second with a 95.4375 GPA.

SJH 2021 valedictorian Ethan Sexton is the son of Robert Sexton and Melissa Sexton.

Sexton was involved in both athletic and academic competitions during his time at SJH.

He was on the school basketball and cross country teams. In fact, Sexton said his hobbies include playing games, basketball and occasionally golfing.

Sexton also competed and earned honors in academic UIL competitions. In mathematics, Sexton earned first place individual and team awards; tied for first in chess and was on the first place chess team; earned second place individual honors and was on the first place number sense team; and placed fifth individually and was on the second place maps, graphs and charts team. Sexton also competed in impromptu speaking UIL.

When he completes high school, Sexton plans to go to college with a goal of one day becoming a veterinarian.

Saltillo Junior High 2021 Salutatorian Michael Gonzalez is the son of Miguel and Felipa Gonzalez. He too was involved in sports and academic commpetititions.

Gonzalez participated in athletics, and was first in Little Dribblers in sixth grade. He says his hobbies include basketball, music and video games. He also participated in tether, choir and academic UIL. In seventh grade UIL competition, he placed second individually and was on the first place team in maps, graphs and charts; and placed fifth in number sense and was on the first place math team. Gonzalez also competed in calculator applications.

He also was named Top Reader in sixth grade.

After high school, Gonzalez plans to go to college with a goal of becoming a financial planning and analysis manager.

High School

Anna Reeder and Garrett Tarver were named valedictorian and salutatorian on the Saltillo High School Senior Class of 2021.

Anna Reeder graduated Friday with a 3.91020 grade point average, making her the top student student in he her class., while Garrett Tarver graduated second with a 3.89795 GPA.

Reeder is the daughter of Eric and Mandy Reeder, and sister of Justin Reeder, Alex Wilson and Jonathan Reeder of Pickton. She attended Saltillo ISD the final six years of her formative education.

She has been active in sports, academic and extracurricular activities.

Reeder served as co-captain of the Varsity Basketball Team. In 2018-19 she was named District Offensive Player of the Year; 2019-20 District Co-MVP and All-Region; and in 2020-21 was named District Co-MVP, All-Region, and All-State in basketball.

The Saltillo High School 2021 valedictorian also was involved in FCCLA, Beta Club and Relay for Life. She competed at state in Beta in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Her community service and volunteer work included with the Food Bank, Relay For Life, a canned food drive and Fall Parade.

To attain the top ranking, Reeder said she set very high standards for herself, and frankly hates leaving a project or assignments undone. She also hates leaving the classroom if I does not fully understand what she earned.

Her advice to other students seeking success is to Set such high standards for yourself that even if you don’t reach your goal, you still succeed in some way. Everyone fails at some point in their life, but It’s what you learn from it and how you apply it to your next goal.

Anna Reeder gives the valedictory address during graduation. (Photo courtesy Johnna West)

“My mom is my biggest role model because she is the strongest woman I know and I hope to become as independent as she is. Another person that inspires me is my brother Justin. He is autistic and has many other mental illnesses and I want to help people that are in the same condition as him,” Reeder said.

Reeder plans to attend Paris Junior College to finish her associate’ in psychology, then transferring to UT Tyler to receive a bachelor’s or master’s in psychology.

“I will be studying to become either a forensic psychologist or a pediatric psychologist. I decided on this career because I have a brother that is autistic and I want to work with people like him,” she said.

Reeder already has many of her basic courses completed. She took advantage of the dual credit English 1 and 2, dual credit Government, dual credit Algebra, dual credit Art, dual credit Mass Communications, American History, Sociology, and Computer Science classes offered while she was in high school, so they would apply toward her college credits as well.

Tarver is the son of Jennifer Tarver of Mount Vernon and Richard Tarver of Como. He attended Saltillo ISD all four years of high school.

In academic UIL, she won first place in district in news writing in 2018 and 2021, and fourth place at regional in news writing in 2019.

He has been very active in sports, school organizations and academic competitions as well, including serving in several leadership roles.

The 2021 Saltillo High School Salutatorian served as Beta Club president during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years and as vice president during the 2018-19 school year; as FCCLA president his senior year, and as vice president and secretary his junior. In Beta, he won first place at state and third place at nationals in black and white photography competition in 2020; and won third place at state in 2020, third in 2019, and second in 2018 in creative writing; and third at state in 2019.

Tarver was on the Varsity Cross Country team from 2018-20, Varsity Track team during the 2019 and 2021 seasons, and Varsity Baseball the last two years. In cross country, The won second place at state in 2020, third at state in 2018 and 2019, and was ranked fourth in nation for small schools in 2020. He won second place at regionals in 2020 and third place in both 2018 and 2019. In track, Tarver won first place at region in the 3200m in 2021 and fourth place at state in 3200m and 1600m in 2021, and second place at region in the 1600m in 2021 and third place at region in the 3200m in 2019.

He too participated in the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Leadership in 2020-21 and was in Boy Scouts from 2014 through this year, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 2020.

Tarver was especially good in writing and spelling UIL academics events. This year, Tarver tied for third place in headline writing at state; third at in headline writing, fifth in ready writing and seventh in spelling at regional competition; and first in ready writing at district. He also won first place in ready writing in 2019 and and fourth in 2018 at district. He won first place honors in editorial writing in 2018, 2019 and 2021, first place in Spelling and Vocabulary in 2019, second in 2018 and third in 2021.

Garrett Tarver gives the salutatorian address during graduation. (Photo courtesy Johnna West)

In addition to all of those activities, Tarver works at Sweet Home Texas Eatery in Mount Vernon, still participates in Boy Scouts as a leader and is involved with First Christian Church of Mckinney.

When asked about his successes, Tarver stated, “Adaptability is important and has helped me succeed, as well as perseverance.” His advice to other students hoping to be successful is to “Make sure to take ‘you’ time. Don’t get so caught up in everything that you don’t relax. You can’t be successful when you’re all stressed out constantly. Look at circumstances from multiple points of view.”

He said many people have impacted him in significant ways, including people from church, school and scouts, who have served as “amazing role models and mentors.”

Tarver plans to attend the University of Oklahoma to study meteorology. He already has already attain several college credits from the dual credit English 1 and 2, Government, Algebra, Art, Mass Communications, and American History classes he took in high school.

“I plan to become a broadcast meteorologist in Texas, specializing in severe storm coverage. The reason I want to do this is not just because I love storms, but because it’s one of the only jobs where I can be wrong more than half the time and not get fired,” Tarver said.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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