Submitted by Denair High School
Hector Obando is the Denair High School Class of 2017 valedictorian by virtue of his 4.17 grade-point average. The salutatorian will be Elisabeth “Libby” Martinez, who compiled a 4.15 GPA in her four years.
The graduation ceremony will be May 26 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are not required.
Obando and Martinez 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?
Obando: Other students should know that hard work is universal. Anyone can push themselves to their limit and succeed. Perseverance is also something that helped my academic achievement.
Martinez: My academic success is from my perseverance and determination. I may have procrastinated to get things done, but at the end of the day, I knew I would have to do them, so why worry about them later?
Q: How much time outside of class did you spend studying or doing homework?
Martinez: Outside of class, I would spend about an hour every day doing homework or trying to study.
Obando: I spend approximately an hour or more, if needed, studying and doing homework.
Q: Which classes and/or teachers at Denair High had the most influence on you?
Obando: All my teachers have really inspired me throughout my four years, including but not limited to Mr. Wagner, Mr. Cumberland, Mrs. Hilton, Mr. Allen, Mr. Stav and Sra. Olivas. In each of their courses that they taught me, I have learned many valuable lessons for the next step in life.
Martinez: My art classes with Mr. Stav have been influential and are the reason I am going to major in Fine Arts in college. My junior English class with Mrs. Schutcherman was also inspiring and gave me the motivation to read again for fun.
Q: How many Advanced Placement classes were you able to take? Were you challenged?
Martinez: During my high school career, I took three AP classes my junior year and three the first semester of my senior year, but dropped it down to two. I was challenged in many of my AP courses, but learned valuable skills to aid me in being prepared for college.
Obando: I was able to take two AP classes my junior year and three classes this year. I was challenged with everything an AP class prepares you to succeed in, from the difficult homework to the AP test.
Q: What kind of culture of learning exists in your home? What has that meant for your success in high school?
Obando: I have a more hands-on learning environment at home, which has helped me understand the concept of thinking ahead of time.
Martinez: My mother and father knew I was intelligent so they always pushed me to be better than I was the day before. This gave me the drive to better myself throughout my high school career and continually push myself to be better.
Q: What should members of the community know about the quality of education at Denair High?
Martinez: Denair High School is like going to a private school without having to pay for it. The teachers know your name and how to help you if you need assistance. Another advantage is with a nice small class size, the class goes at your pace.
Obando: They should understand that it is a loving learning environment that will apply to all subjects, including amazing relationships with every staff member.
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?
Obando: I have been part of FFA, which has influenced my career in possible agriculture-related ways in my minor. I also have worked with children at outdoor education and on the football field with the Denair Lions. I have also played football, baseball, soccer and basketball. All of these have taught me valuable characteristics that a leader in the community should possess, and all the responsibilities that I will have in the future.
Martinez: After school, I am involved in track and field, Drama Club, Key Club, gymnastics and coaching children’s gymnastics. These events all have impacted me in many ways and have taught me to push myself harder, be kind, and how to be flexible physically and mentally. Committing yourself to certain activities at certain points in the day and organizing yourself so you do not get lost in your schedule is a vital life skill.
Q: What is the right balance for teens busy with school, teams or clubs, and even part-time jobs?
Martinez: If you are constantly busy with school activities and jobs, then you must remind yourself to take that break day every now and then. Set yourself realistic goals for the day and then reward yourself at the end of the week with something you have been wanting. Another thing to keep you going at full speed 24/7 is coffee. Do not doubt the powers of coffee! Caffeine is a must if you plan to balance out everything throughout your busiest days.
Obando: The right balance is to go ahead and hang out with your friends, but to not let it interfere during the week when studying or working on projects. To push through every day and to be a better person that you were yesterday.
Q: What are your college and career plans?
Obando: I plan to attend CSU Fresno and become a civil engineer.
Martinez: I plan to go to San Francisco State University and major in Fine Arts. Currently, I don’t have a concrete plan for my career, but I would like to work in the video game industry or advertising.
Q: What themes are you going to talk about in your speeches on graduation night?
Martinez: All that I am going to tell you about my speech is that it revolves around how tight-knit our graduation class is and how even though we won’t physically see each other every day, we will always be together.
Obando: I will talk about family, community and vital influences in my life.