Aaron Ramos and Hope Kearney were very humble about their spots atop the Class of 2019.
This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, the two students suggested that they might not be the two smartest kids in this year’s senior class.
“It doesn’t mean I am the smartest,” said Aaron who was named valedictorian in late April. “I’m not a genius. It’s a matter of consistency. I’m well rounded. I consistently put in the effort – something my dad taught me to do.”
Hope echoed his thoughts but said she was thrilled, and surprised, to find out she was salutatorian.
“It’s a really big honor to be recognized for hard work in high school,” she said. “I’m really proud of it.”
Aaron Ramos, Valedictorian
Aaron said he has always tried to get good grades but when he learned as a junior that he was ranked second in his class, he decided to try to finish first. He said he is a very competitive person.
“I thought maybe it’s possible,” he said. “I have always been pretty good at school, and I like winning things. So I said, ‘This year, I’m going to try really hard.’”
He said he took AP Biology this year and thinks that might have vaulted him to the top.
“I was shooting for straight 100s,” he said. “I didn’t do that, but I did get close. I knew that would get me over the hump.”
Aaron plans to go to the University of Arizona in Tucson next year and major in material sciences and engineering. Or if that proves too challenging, he might major in biology and be a doctor.
“I want to keep my options open,” he said. “I thought about it for a long time. Making things has always appealed to me. The creation of anything is absolutely spectacular.”
While at Wylie he has been on the disk golf team for four years and Student Council for four years, serving as a class officer during his sophomore and senior years. He also competed in UIL spelling and vocabulary, was in the National Honor Society and took Spanish for five years.
He said the students who were a grade ahead of him as he was going through school inspired him to work hard at his grades.
“I always wanted to be smart like the grade above us,” he said. “The grade above us was absolute geniuses.”
He said his parents have also inspired him.
“My parents work really, really hard,” he said. “I want to buy my parents a house. It’s my main goal in life.”
He said he followed their example and worked hard on his classes.
“I like winning. I like standing out. I like being unique,” he said. “I just try to make sure I do everything and make sure I know the material. I’m also pretty good at guessing. I’m a pretty lucky person.”
Hope Kearney, salutatorian
Hope didn’t have a clue that she had risen in her class rankings to salutatorian until school administrators called her into the office to tell her.
“I was totally surprised,” she said. “I was trying to have good grades, but I never thought it was possible to be salutatorian. I’ve always tried to keep good grades.”
Hope plans to go to Utah State University in the fall and study wildlife ecology and conservation.
“I really like the outdoors and animals, and I’m passionate about the environment,” she said. “It’s what I’m interested in. It fits me.”
Over the last five years, Hope has volunteered extensively at the Abilene Zoo, getting a feel for wildlife management.
“I have over 750 hours at the zoo, mostly with bird rehab,” she said. “I get instructed in the basics of wildlife rehabilitation and veterinarian care. I also got to shadow the vet some.”
While at Wylie, she’s been on the yearbook staff for six years, and she designed the last four yearbook covers. She also is in National Honor Society, took AP classes and took four years of Spanish. She said she specifically tried not to take too many extracurricular activities in order to keep her grades up.
“I didn’t want to be stressed out like a lot of kids are,” she said. “It takes a lot of work.”
She said her brother, Josh, who graduated last year, inspired her to work hard.
“He’s just really naturally intelligent,” she said. “I always tried to be like him because I admired how smart he was. Now I can tease him that I was ahead of him for once. I think he finished 5th in his class.”