Gilbreath, Chandler lead Class of 2008 at Saltillo High School
By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor
May 30, 2008 - Saltillo High School's top students have been announced, and Jessica Gilbreath and Jeff Chandler are at the top of the class.
Gilbreath will give the valedictory speech during a commencement service which begins at 8 p.m. Friday, June 6, in the school cafeteria. This marks here second time to give the address; she was also the 8th grade valedictorian. She will graduate from SHS with a 3.75 grade point average.
Chandler has been named salutatorian and will be graduating with a 3.61 grade point average.
Gilbreath is the daughter of Jeff and Tonya Walker and Jason and Heather Gilbreath, and sister of Kayla Walker and Sam and Kate Gilbreath.
Chandler is the son of Pamela and Jeff Chandler, and brother of Ryan and Lizzy.
Both students have participated in sports, various school organizations and University Interscholastic League academic contests.
Gilbreath has been in Beta Club and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America all four years of high school, serving as Beta Club secretary in 9th grade and president in 12th grade, and as FCCLA treasurer in 12th grade. Her FCCLA service projects included Relay for Life and as a nursing home volunteer. She was class reporter her freshman year, class treasurer her junior year and class secretary as a senior. She was also a member of Spanish Club her first two years of high school
Chandler was a four-year member of both the FFA and Beta Club, serving as FFA sentinel as a sophomore and advisor as a junior. He was in the Spanish Club his freshman and sophomore years, and in FCCLA as a senior.
Gilbreath was an active participant in academic UIL competition. She was a regional qualifier in feature writing as a freshman and a senior, and placed fifth in headline writing as a junior. She "loved" participating in One Act Play all four years of high school, earning honorable mention All Star Cast recognition as a senior, and being named to the All Star Cast as a freshman and sophomore.
Chandler also participated in UIL as a freshman and sophomore and in One Act Play as a junior and senior. He was named Best Stage Hand as a junior.
While Gilbreath was named honorable mention as a freshman and junior, and was named 2nd Team All District as a sophomore in basketball, she is most proud of being named district Co-Defensive Player of the Year and being part of the state's first-ranked team as a senior.
She ran cross country and was regional qualifier three years. She also ran track as a freshman and sophomore, and qualified for region as a sophomore.
During her two years playing tennis, Gilbreath was a regional qualifier and was a district mixed doubles champ.
Gilbreath also played softball all four years, receiving honorable mention her freshman and junior years.
Chandler said he's been "playing basketball since I got here" and played baseball his freshman and sophomore years, basketball every year except his junior year and ran track and field his freshman year.
He's especially fond of science fiction, medieval times, and the history of Japanese and Chinese cultures. � � � "I plan to go there (to Asia) in the future or at least visit before I die," Chandler said.
Chandler plans to use his skills in math and science in a career in robotics engineering.
"Robotics technology is going to continue happening forever, with new advancements all the time,' Chandler said. "You use science and math, geometry, algebra, different scientific methods."
He said he'll start his schooling at Paris Junior College, getting his engineering basics, then transfer to another school more suited to his field.
Gilbreath said English is her favorite subject because "I really love to write." But she, too, plans to pursue a science-related career.
This year, she received dual high school-college credit for the last English class she took as well as a dual biology class. She attributes the summer spent helping at the doctor's office where her mother works and a biology class for her desire to earn a nursing degree, then become a pharmaceutical representative.
Gilbreath said she plans to work again this summer with her mom, then go to the University of Tyler or Tyler Junior College to begin working on a multi-program bachelor's degree.
Graduation will be a bittersweet moment for Gilbreath. She will be giving the valedictory speech on the day her grandfather died, a man she really looked up to and is inspired by.
"I've always wanted to be like him," she said of James Self. "He was a really neat guy. He was in the Army and war, and had all these stories. He was going to college when he died. He was going to be history teacher and took art classes. He was really good."
Chandler, a self-professed procrastinator and "go with the flow" kind of guy, said his friend Cody Rackley motivates him to action, spurs him to explore things and activities outside his usual comfort zone.
He said he's appreciative toward his parents, for "keeping me in school." He said he becomes bored easily, often goofing off in class, but they've kept him going.
But, he said it's his grandmother who really has had the biggest impact.
"My grandma helped me get through school. I would not have graduated had it not been for her," he said, explaining that throughout the more than a dozen moves his family has made, his grandmother, Pat Hernandez, has been his rock.
"She's always there, stable, even if it hurts her," Chandler said. "My parents were also both there. With my brother and sister too, they didn't have as much to expend. She was able to help me, and them too. She expanded one what they were able to do [with] expenses."
Gilbreath said that she gives credit for her successes mostly to her mother.
"My mom is at ever single thing I do. She's my biggest fan. I really appreciate her," she said.