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Top 10 graduates honored with luncheon

Achieving the elite status of being one of the Top 10 students in the graduating class takes years of hard work and preparation, so it’s only fitting that these 10 students receive a little extra recognition.

The Top 10 students in the Class of 2022 were honored Monday during the annual Top 10 Luncheon.

The group, which included their parents, gathered in the library for the luncheon.

“We wanted to include the parents because family is important, and they have offered their support the whole time as the students worked toward this accomplishment,” Assistant Principal Yan Heijligers said.

The parents enjoyed eating alongside their student, as well as the teachers who were invited by the Top 10.

“I just can’t believe this accomplishment,” said David English, who is valedictorian Naomi English’s father. “Our girl is so amazing, and we are proud of her. She worked so hard to get to this point. We have always tried to support her along the way with a stable family life.”

To avoid keeping things too serious, Mr. English added, “It’s just going to be me and her mom at home now. But we’ve got eight chickens, so they will have to replace her. I hope that will help.”

In addition to parents, the Top 10 students were asked to invite a teacher who made an impact on their life. The following Top 10 students chose to honor these teachers:

Naomi English - Emily Leitnick

Elizabeth Samples - Katie Filina

Isabella Escobedo - Matthew Riggins

Robert Brewer - Maurice Lock

Ayden Horton - Alan Gray

Susana Vasquez Castillo - Matthew Riggins

Kaitlyn McKenna - Dennis Webb

Presley Gee - Leroy Mansanales

Charlee Proctor - Shalley Boles

“I chose Mr. Gray because he’s been my percussion teacher for five years,” Ayden said. “And he’s been one of my biggest supporters. I’ve been looking forward to the luncheon because we’ve worked hard for it, and now it’s time to sit down and relax with everyone.”

As a sentimental surprise, the students wrote cards and letters to present to their teachers, who were a little choked up reading the kind words from students.

“Coach Mansanales is someone I could always count on,” wrote Presley Gee, who was an active part of the baseball program for five years moving from fan to team manager. “He played a huge role in my life.”

Mr. Heijligers said the notes to the teachers were a nice way to cap off the luncheon.

“You know these notes made an impact,” he said. “They got to read what kind of impact they had on their students. That’s special.”

The teachers agreed that the invitation alone was enough to make them feel special.

“This means the world to me,” said science teacher Emily Leitnick, who taught Naomi in both freshman and senior year. “To know I made such an influence on someone who will be so influential on others means so much. I love Naomi and really got to watch her grow.”

A few of the teachers are frequent fliers for the Top 10 luncheon.

“This really means everything to be here,” said English teacher Katie Filina, who was also chosen by Elizabeth’s sister, Rayna, last year. “It has to be the greatest honor in a school year. I’m so humbled by it, but so excited to be a part of it.”