Holly Madden, Gaby Olayo lead Class of 2008 at Yantis High School

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

May 23, 2008 - After four years of rigorous academic courses, the hard work has finally paid off for two Yantis High School students -- Holly Madden, who has been named valedictorian, and Gaby Olayo, the salutatorian for the Class of 2008.

Madden, the 17-year-old daughter of Ray and Donna Bunch, moved to the area her freshman year from Euless. She said she was shocked when she was announced as being at the top of her class.

"I didn't really expect it because I didn't know how well others in my class were doing," said Madden, who admitted she found pre-calculus her most challenging subject.

A grade point average of 3.5905 helped earn her scholarships that will pay for her entire first year's tuition at Texas A&M University-College Station, where she plans to major in biology. From there she plans on attending medical school with hopes of becoming a physician's assistant.

"I've always wanted to be in the medical field," she said. "I know it sounds cheesy, but I want to help people in some way."

Olayo, the 18-year-old daughter of Sergio and Rocio Olayo, has attended Yantis ISD for 12 years and finished up her high school education with a GPA of 3.5416.

She, too, plans a career in the medical field, hoping to become a pediatrician or pediatric nurse.

"I like kids and speak two languages, so I think that is a plus," she said.

Having received a $4,000 scholarship from Tyler Junior College, Olayo plans to take her basics at TJC before going on to medical school.

Both girls credit a science teacher, Michael Alphin, as their biggest influence.

"He always encouraged us to enroll in college and pushes us to succeed," said Olayo.

"He likes to talk to us about our future and helps us figure out what we're going to do later in life," Madden added.

When it comes to getting good grades, Madden's advice to underclassmen is to "stay focused."

"There are a lot of distractions in high school," she said. "They just need to remember their grades, even with all the extracurricular activities they're involved in."

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