Top PHS students have friendly rivalry

Permian High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian are longtime friends, but that didn’t stop a little friendly rivalry between them as the race for the top rankings drew to a close.

Valedictorian Kristin Morton and salutatorian Marco Martinez have known each other since kindergarten and are both planning to attend Texas A&M University in the fall.

They have similar extracurricular activities and achievements. Morton was a National Hispanic Scholar; she was on the sophomore, junior and senior board, Congressional Youth Advisory Council for the 11th District, National Honor Society president, senate in her junior and senior year, treasurer of Students in Philanthropy and Texas Scholars.

Morton, 18, also has been a classical pianist the last 13 years.

Martinez, 17, was the vice president of the National Honor Society, historian of Students in Philanthropy, a member of the senior board, a member of the senate, a member of Phi Theta Kappa and National Society of Leadership and Success at Odessa College where he took dual credit classes, a member of the Congressional Youth Advisory Council for District 11 and academic decathlon.

“I’ve held on to the No. 1 rank since sophomore year and I kind of just made it a goal of mine to keep doing it,” Morton said. “It was always my first priority just to do my best, not necessarily to be at the top spot and doing my best just got me there.”

As soon as she found out for sure she would be No. 1, Morton said she felt relieved.

“I could stop stressing about it and it’s really fulfilling to have done it,” Morton said.

But she also admires Martinez.

“He’s actually a really good friend of mine since kindergarten. I just think the world of him. He’s so smart and so awesome, so there was definitely a little bit of competition. But it was always friendly competition, so if it would have been the other way and he would have beat me it would have been just fine,” she said.

Having Martinez as her chief competition, she said, made the whole process a lot less stressful.

“I know that in another situation … really the competition could have been really not pretty, but with Marco it was really nice. We were really supportive of one another the whole way, so it was great,” Morton said.

Morton said she is excited to find out what the future holds, move on and do something new.

“I’ve enjoyed my time in high school, but I’m also excited to see what’s coming. I give a lot of credit for that to my teachers. I’ve had some wonderful, wonderful teachers. I’m really blessed to be able to say that. I think they’ve prepared me more than I could ever ask for,” Morton said.

Morton’s brother, Ryan, was the valedictorian at Odessa High School. But she said her parents didn’t pressure her to be the same.

“They definitely did a good job of nudging me in the right direction, but they never once said, ‘You have to do this.’ They always just said you need to do your best just try your best and I think that’s why I didn’t feel pressured to get where I am. I didn’t have to be valedictorian. It’s just doing my best got me to that point,” Morton said.

Martinez intends to study biology and go into the pre-medicine program at Texas A&M to become a physician or surgeon.

“I tried my best,” he said. “That’s basically all I really have to say. It was a long run. I’m very proud of Kristin. She did a great job. She deserved everything that she got.”

Martinez said they had a little bit of a rivalry, but it was “all fun and games.”

“We’d tease each other about it. Everyone at school knew we were close, so they’d make a little game out of it. It was a friendly competition; very friendly,” he said.

He agreed with Morton that Permian has prepared him well for college and it will help him financially.

Martinez said his family supported him tremendously. He has two little brothers, who he said are a thorn in his side, but also the “light of my heart.”

“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be. Mom homeschooled me when I was little. I didn’t go to preschool,” he said.

“I try to be the best example I can for them. I just want to teach them never give up, always try your best in everything that you do and never let anything knock you down,” he added.

If You Go
  • What: Permian High School graduation.
  • When: 8:30 p.m. May 25.
  • Where: Ratliff Stadium.