Permian High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian have known each other since seventh grade. Always self-motivated, Marshall Wemmer and Colton Higgins ratcheted up the competition and emerged as the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Commencement is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Ratliff Stadium.
Wemmer, who is involved football and track, plans to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point to study economics. He was awarded a $250,000 scholarship.
“After I graduate, after my four years, you have a five-year service commitment and the first thing I want to do out of that is go to jump school. They teach you how to be an airborne, so how to jump out of planes. It’s about six months of training. You do about 100 jumps,” Wemmer said.
“It just sounds fun. It sounds like something I want to do,” he added.
Wemmer said he’s wanted to be in the military since he was young. In 10th grade, he said his teachers started telling him there were other options and that he could go to Ivy League schools, but he was wait listed at a couple of them and denied by one.
“When I got West Point back, I’d been praying about it and thinking about it really hard. I got it like the very next day. I thought that’s it; that’s where I’m going to go,” Wemmer said.
He reports July 1.
Wemmer said he and Higgins pushed each other in school.
“It was a competition, but we were also there to help each other out. If he asked for help, I wouldn’t tell him the wrong thing, or vice-versa,” Wemmer said.
His advice for younger students wishing to make the top 10 is to take as many Advanced Placement classes as possible and don’t be afraid of the test because if they pay attention in class, “they’ll be OK.”
Wemmer said students should talk to their counselors, make sure they know what classes are weighted the highest, get in those classes and “just study and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Wemmer’s mother, Lauri Wemmer, said she and her husband, Jeff, are very proud of Marshall. She added that they are honored that he is going to West Point.
Lauri Wemmer said Marshall Wemmer was always a self starter and very motivated to succeed.
“I got yelled at when he was 2 years old because I said he was boring and Lauri said, ‘He’s not boring. He’s just intelligent. He’s thinking things through.’ That really happened,” Jeff Wemmer said.
“We had two other kids that were just vivacious and he was also so level and quiet. She said he’s just intelligent. He’s just thinking it through. It proved out. I mean, that’s how he rolls,” Wemmer added.
He added that Marshall was able to become a problem solver early on and can rationalize and figure things out.
“He’s got a great love for God and his country, as well, which is a big underpinning of his whole psychology. He’s a self-starter with religion and patriotism. We didn’t really drum it into his head. He voluntarily attended churches; followed up with things on his own, which is kind of interesting,” Jeff Wemmer said.
Marshall is in the band at CrossRoads Fellowship and a youth leader.
Higgins said making the top of the class means a lot of hard work and taking the right classes. The 18-year-old senior plans to study mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University.
“I had been in the top 10 since junior high. Then I was No. 2 all through high school, so I was pretty sure I was still in, but I wasn’t sure if I stayed at No. 2,” Higgins said.
“Last year, I was trying to take harder classes to raise my GPA so I could pass him (Wemmer). He knew the classes I was taking, so he took all the same classes. Basically, we made each other’s year a lot harder than it could have been,” Higgins said.
Eventually, Higgins said, he wants to open his own business and move to the Dallas area. He plays golf.
His advice to other students who would like to make the top 10 is to take the right classes because that will help your GPA and make sure to let your teachers know you well, because they will help you more.
Higgins’ father, John Higgins, said he was extremely proud of his son’s achievement.
“He’s worked very hard since he was a young man. Since he started kindergarten, he’s always been committed and his work ethic has been unquestionable and (we’re) just super proud of him and the next chapter in his life,” John Higgins said.
His mother is Mandi Higgins.
John Higgins added that Colton Higgins his very self-motivated and looks to his parents more for reassurance and support than nudging.
“In seventh grade, he posted his goals on the bathroom mirror that he wanted to graduate in the top three, I believe, and he wanted to go on to Texas A&M and wanted to graduate in the top … of his class at A&M, go to work and learn his field, and five to seven years later, open his own business,” John Higgins said.
At the end of his sixth-grade year, his father said Colton opened a pet sitting business where he walks and feeds and takes care of other people’s pets. Today, he has nearly 80 customers.
“It’s not uncommon for him to go take care of pets before he even goes to school in the morning. For the typical summer for Colton, he doesn’t sleep in. He’s up by 6-6:30 and pet sitting,” John Higgins said.
He added that Colton graduated recently with an associate degree from Odessa College.