“It’s an amazing group of young men and young ladies,” Principal Mauricio Marquez said. “Not only have they demonstrated great leadership for the entire campus, they’re involved in so many activities that it’s amazing to be able to accomplish academically what they’ve been able to do.”
Most of the students were involved in fine arts, athletics and other activities on campus, but several also hold jobs and are involved in other organizations, Marquez said.
“So the time commitment that each one of them has been involved in is just amazing,” he added.
He said he was truly an honor and he was blessed to have these students on campus and he wishes them the best.
“I can’t wait to see all the amazing things that they will accomplish throughout their career. … It’s that time of year for parents and teachers. It’s kind of bittersweet, to some degree. Graduation brings out a lot of emotions, especially getting to see the kids on their final journey as far as their education here in the district,” Marquez said.
Last year was Marquez’ first commencement as OHS principal.
“For me, it’s a little extra special in that I was blessed to be an elementary principal at one time, then obviously moved up to middle school, so many of my kids that will be graduating next Friday I’ve known since they were 5 years old. Getting the chance to see them coming in at 4 or 5 years old and now to be graduating high school it’s for me one of the highlights of my career,” Marquez said.
The senior class, at this point, will have about 700 students. Marquez noted that final exams were ongoing Wednesday.
Aldo Silva and Iris Ramirez, both 18, plan to attend University of Texas Permian Basin.
After his sister became a nurse, Silva, who is ranked No. 9 in the senior class, said it sparked an interest in medicine.
“In school, I discovered a passion for biology,” Silva said.
He said it’s hard to describe how being in the top 10 feels.
“I know my hard work paid off,” Silva said. “All those nights I had to decide on going out with friends, or staying at home and doing homework. It was worth it to stay at home and do homework.”
His advice to younger students who want to aim for the top 10 is not to get discouraged if you don’t pass something.
“We all go through ups and downs and it’s important that we look ahead and don’t let that bring us down,” Silva said.
Ramirez, who is ranked No. 3, plans to study petroleum geology and establish herself in the oilfield after college. She also wants to build churches for her church.
Being in the top 10, said Ramirez, is a privilege.
“I’m proud I got to make it here with I guess you could call it the elite of OHS,” she said.
Time management skills, she said, are essential to making the upper echelon of students because you have to juggle so many things.
“You have to always keep a strict schedule and stick to it, despite problems that may arise in your life,” Ramirez said.
Her motivation was to graduate.
“… Being top 10 was always one of my biggest goals, so it was one of my biggest motivators. I need to keep perseveringso I can be in the top 10.
Nicholas Arenivas, 18, plans to study mathematics at UT Austin and ultimately become a dentist.
“My dentist allowed me to go shadow him and open up an opportunity for me to see if I (would) enjoy that career. When I went and shadowed him, I did enjoy all the things that he showed me,” Arenivas said.
Asked how math and dentistry connect, he said he enjoys math and was told he could pick any major and go to dental school from there.
“They said actually choosing a path that’s not directly science based, like biology or something, would give (you) a better chance of getting into dental school because it shows that you’re open to different things,” Arenivas said.
Having been in the top 10 in middle school, Arenivas said he wanted to accomplish the same in high school. Seeing the top 10 sitting on stage at graduation and their parents with special seating is an honor, he said.
His advice to younger students is to stay on top of their work so they don’t fall behind.
“When it gets tough, just keep pushing through it because the reward is something good. You get into colleges and it just helps you with your career, but just stay on top of things, ask for help (and) don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re needing help,” Arenivas said.
A lot of what motivated him was his mother.
“She pushes me. She pushes me hard because she wants the best for me, not out of anything else but wanting the best for me and wanting me to be successful in my life and have a good job and support a family one day,” he said.
Jiovanni Jimenez, who is in the No. 5 spot, said he plans to be pre-pharmacy and major in chemistry at UTPB.
Jimenez, 18, said he developed an interest in science at a young age because his mother was a nurse.
He said being in the top 10 is a pretty big accomplishment and he gives a lot of credit to his parents for helping him get there. Jimenez added that being in those rarefied ranks was not his goal in the beginning.
“I was just taking the classes, and my motivation, I guess, would be preparing for college. Then I realized I was close to the top 10 and then I finally realized, ‘Oh, I actually made it in,’ so I was actually surprised,” Jimenez said.
He said his advice to younger students is they should pursue the top 10 if that’s their goal, but they should keep in mind that it’s a lot of hard work.