David Shirley has been named valedictorian and Samantha Dodgen salutatorian of the Yantis High School Senior Class of 2013. Amber Lynn Bagwell and Kelsey Lynn Huie were recognized as the top eighth graders at Yantis, as well.
Shirley, son of Perry and Joy Shirley, graduates with a 4.03 grade point average. He has attended school at Yantis all 12 years, during which time he has earned several accolades for his academic, extra-curricular and athletic accomplishments.
The valedictorian has served as class officer for three years, mostly as treasurer. He also is on the yearbook staff and was a Math and Science Club officer.
He plays basketball and baseball and is part of the cross country and track team. This year, he went to region in cross country, and advanced to area in track. His freshman, sophomore and junior years he was part of the YHS basketball teams that won district championships. His junior year, the basketball team made it to area, and the regional quarterfinals; he played center. He earned Academic All-State in basketball this year.
Shirley has been involved in academic UIL all four years of high school, competing in mathematics, accounting and ready writing. He advanced to the state competition in mathematics UIL as a freshman, and has advanced to the regional competition all four years.
He was the freshman Greenhand President of FFA, and has served as FFA secretary. He showed his cows two years at the National Junior Angus Shows in Iowa and Tulsa. At the state Junior Angus Show, he won reserve grand champion.
Shirley plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station, where he will major in accounting and finance. Afterward, he plans to work with a firm until he gains the experience and can afford to establish his own business. In addition to the valedictorian scholarship, which pays the first year’s tuition to any state school, he also received a $1,500 scholarship from Texas A&M. He’s also applied for several local scholarships, but those won’t be announced until the school awards program on June 6.
When asked about his choice of career plan, he said simply, “math comes easy to me,” but admits it’s not his favorite subject. History is at the top of his class list.
He gives credit for his successes to his parents.
“They really pushed me hard to stay on top of all my grades,” Shirley said.
When asked how he’d like to be remembered by classmates and community members in years to come, after a few moments of reflection, Shirley said he hopes he left a positive impression.
“Ms. Kathy [Williamson, secretary] said I have a positive attitude and a joy to be around. Hopefully, for that. Hopefully, I’ll be remembered for the good not bad,” he said.
Dodgen served as president of the Academic Club, during her freshman and sophomore years was in the Math and Science Club, is on the yearbook staff and served as class vice president her sophomore, junior and senior years.
The salutatorian said UIL has been her main activity. She has competed and advanced to region in five categories all four years of high school — computer applications, spelling and vocabulary, ready writing, headline writing and robotics. She has competed at the state contest the last three years in computer applications, she won the state championship in computer applications as a sophomore and placed second last year. She will compete Tuesday and Wednesday in spelling and computer applications at the state UIL contest. She has been on the robotics team that won the alliance the last three years. Her sophomore year, she also competed in One-Act Play, earning Best Actress accolades at the zone contest for her performance in “Suppressed Desires,” which advanced to area.
To prepare for UIL, Dodgen said she does “lots of studying” in her free time between meets. Between region and state, there is about a month, which she says she uses to try to improve her skills in the competition she is advancing in.
She credits her parents, as well as UIL coaches and teachers Becky Barnes, Chip Mathews and Laurie Steward for her successes and helping her discover what career she plans to pursue. She said while getting close to them and learning more about each area, she learned what she she wants to do.
Dodgen plans to attend Baylor University, where she will study computer science. She was awarded the largest scholarship the institution gives — a $56,000 Presidential Gold Scholarship, which is disbursed over a four-year period. She has also applied for all of the scholarships the community has to offer, but won’t know if she has been selected for them until the 7 p.m. program Thursday, June 6, in the school cafeteria.
Dodgen is also involved in music, playing the guitar, bass and ukulele. She utilizes her skills playing with Sulphur Springs First Baptist Church’s youth band.
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