Top DUSD Students Reflect on Quality of Education

Salutatorian, Madison Taylor and valedictorian, Trey Howze

Salutatorian, Madison Taylor and valedictorian, Trey Howze

The Denair High School Class of 2014 will be honored May 30 at a graduation celebration. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are not required.

Trey Howze will be the valedictorian and Madison Taylor the salutatorian. Trey (4.22) had the highest grade-point average among the 79 graduating seniors and Madison (4.15) had the second-highest.  Trey and Madison recently took time to answer 10 questions about their high school experiences.

Question: What are the key things other students should know about your academic success and how you achieved it?

Trey: The key that students should know about achieving academic success is hard work.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest person, but if you’re lazy you will have problems.  I was able to achieve success because I put the time in to study and work.

Madison: Determination and setting goals is part of what got me so far in academics. I got into a habit of getting home and doing my work right away. It got easier over time. Never be afraid to ask questions because that is part of learning. Failure is also part of learning. Nobody is perfect and failing allows people to realize what they did wrong how to fix it.

Q: How much time outside of class did you spend studying or doing homework?

Madison: In general, I most take about an hour to two hours a day studying and doing homework. As long as I keep up with my work and don’t put it off, it doesn’t take very long.

Trey: I spent an average of about two hours doing homework each night after practice.  The key to spending time is not procrastinating each night but to get portions done so that there is still time to relax and hang out with friends.

Q: Which classes and/or teachers at Denair High had the most influence on you?

Trey: I would say that Mr. Michaelis had the most influence on me.  I had him for Algebra 2, Trig and AP stats.  Mr. Michaelis made math fun and easy to understand over the three years I had him.

Madison: Mr. Michealis, my math teacher for the past three years, and Mr. Allen, my leadership advisor. All my classes have had an influence in my life.

Q: How many Advanced Placement classes were you able to take? Were you challenged?

Madison: I am currently taking three AP classes, but throughout high school I have had six AP classes and many honors classes. The material is more advanced and detailed, grading is harder and more is expected of me when taking AP classes. It is challenging, but it’s rewarding because it allows me to work hard and gain more intelligence.

Trey: I was able to take six AP classes and was slightly challenged in each.  The most challenging were the two AP English classes.  Both classes required the ability to write essays on difficult topics and find supporting evidence to back up my position.

Q: What kind of culture of learning exists in your home? What has that meant for your success in high school?

Trey: I live in a tight-knit family that believes in hard work and dedication.  Our family supports and helps each other on anything.  We are a very busy family and one of my brothers or I are always at a game or practice.  In terms of success, the drive my parents passed on to the three of us has paid off.

Madison: My home has always consisted of being open minded, being active and a hard worker in everything I do. My family is very involved in each other’s lives. My family has had the biggest impact on me. They have helped throughout my life and taught me many lessons. My family’s view and support is what gave me the drive to be successful.

Q: What should members of the community know about the quality of education at Denair High?

Madison: My education at Denair has never disappointed me or my family and that is why I have stayed all four years. I have been able to take the classes I need, learn new material and improve every day. I feel being a small school is a benefit because we work more one-on-one with the teachers and there aren’t as many distractions as there would be with larger class sizes. My teachers have been wonderful and have given me an exceptional education.

Trey: Denair’s schools feature small classes so students get more one-on-one time with teachers.  This allows students who have a tougher time learning gain better knowledge.  In this way, I believe Denair has a great advantage over the bigger surrounding schools because we learn the same materials that the state requires in a small classroom setting, which benefits the students.

Q: Outside of class, what kinds of teams, organizations or clubs are you involved in? How important are extracurricular activities in preparing you for college and beyond?

Trey: At school I am a member of CSF (California Scholarship Federation), Academic Block D, and the football, basketball and track teams.  Outside of school, I am an Eagle Scout in Troop 451 and volunteer for Turlock Youth Football.  As I go off to college, I believe that each of these helped me find what I liked to do and allowed me to enjoy my four years in high school.

Madison: I am involved with travel volleyball, Key Club, leadership, yearbook, CSF, Academic Block D, and senior class president. They are all very momentous to me. They teach me how to be a leader, care for and work well with others, be a hard worker and much more.

Q: What is the right balance for teens busy with school, teams or clubs, and even part-time jobs?

Madison: Balance in life is very important. Too much of one thing can cause stress. Everyone needs time to relax, have fun, but still have time for school and work. I am a teen who has many extracurricular activities, has a job and always makes time to do my work for school. A few hours of each is a good balance, but if someone needs more time like with homework or studying then they should do half, take a break and maybe go to practice or a club activity then come back to the work to finish it. That way, it’s not overwhelming.

Trey: The right balance depends truly on what kind of person someone is.  For me, the right balance was constant movement and staying busy, but for others the stress of staying busy is too much so I suggest finding a comfortable point in the middle to balance yourself out.

Q: What are your college and career plans?

Trey: I will be going to UC Davis in the fall and study molecular biology and biochemistry.  My plans after are to go to professional school and become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in athletes and their injuries.

Madison: I plan to attend UC Merced and major in human biology. I want to continue on to graduate school and hopefully become a physician assistant.

Q: What themes are you going to talk about in your speeches on graduation night?

Madison: I plan to talk about dedication, hard work, goals, memories and life lessons, and to wish my peers luck in the future and congratulate them on their accomplishments.

Trey: My speech is a secret so I suggest attending graduation to find out.  So make sure you are there on Friday, May 30, if you want to know.

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