FORT WORTH — Brilliant blue skies seemed to reflect the hope and dreams of 113 academic all-stars who gathered Wednesday at the Fort Worth Water Gardens for a celebratory group portrait.The valedictorians and salutatorians represented the top two graduates from public, private and charter high schools in Tarrant County. Their portrait created a snapshot of the larger Class of 2013, a can-do generation just beginning a journey of challenges and remarkable possibilities.Valedictorians are the students who have achieved the highest academic grade-point averages in their class. Salutatorians receive the second-highest average. Often, the two positions are separated by the slimmest of fractions.Class sizes in most public schools are measured in hundreds of students, so achieving this status requires a prolonged effort of 13 years and a rigorous course load to eventually come out on top.Several schools had three honor graduates, with co-valedictorians or co-salutatorians, an example of the keen competition of academic ability.A trio of honor grads from The Oakridge School in Arlington came in matching white dress shirts and yellow ties.Some students who attended had graduated early. Salutatorian Grant Hase from Northwest school district’s Steele Accelerated High School in Roanoke graduated in December. Hase proudly displayed his Texas A&M University student ID as he checked in at the sign-in table.Several honor students could be heard discussing the task of finishing their commencement addresses, a valedictorian’s and salutatorian’s major duty at graduation.As the students took their spot for the photo, Carlos Mucharraz, Arlington Heights High School’s valedictorian, turned to his peers.“I said, ‘If they put us in a room together and locked us in, do you think we could make something great happen?’ And they all immediately said, ‘Of course. We’re sure of it,’^” said Mucharraz, who plans to study biochemistry or molecular biology at Northwestern University.Students certified as the highest-ranking graduates at a Texas high school qualify for an exemption from tuition during their first two semesters at a Texas public university. Most top grads also receive additional private or university scholarships based on their academic achievement.Many of the seniors arrived at the photo shoot — the first of its kind sponsored by the Star-Telegram — with parents, most of whom were less composed than their sons and daughters.When Star-Telegram photojournalist Rodger Mallison finished capturing the images, he invited the observing gallery of parents to step forward to his prime spot on a ledge overlooking the students.Something got to us about the way mothers, fathers and grandparents moved forward with cellphones and cameras to record enmasse that bittersweet moment of pride and yes, sorrow that every parent of a graduating senior understands.But perhaps the most poignant moment of the day came when the students were given an opportunity to thank those who helped get them to the place they were standing.Applause, cheers and whoops seemed to drown out all other sounds at the busy Fort Worth landmark. But it only seemed to magnify our hope for the future.Fort Worth school districtArlington Heights High• Valedictorian Carlos Mucharraz, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.• Salutatorian Samuel Bates, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.Carter-Riverside High• Valedictorian Elizabeth Aguilar, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Eduardo Villa, Texas A&M University, College StationDiamond Hill-Jarvis High• Valedictorian Rocio Robledo, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Jennifer Montiel, University of Texas at AustinDunbar High• Salutatorian Diona Willis, TCU, Fort WorthEastern Hills High• Valedictorian Carolyn J. Estrada, University of Texas at ArlingtonNorth Side High• Valedictorian Maria Pacheco, Duke University, Durham, N.C.• Co-Salutatorian Abel Cerros, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.• Co-Salutatorian Zayra Ramos, Texas A&M University, College StationO.D. Wyatt High• Valedictorian Avery J. Brown, Jackson State University, Jackson, Miss.• Salutatorian Ulrik A. Rodriguez, Midwestern State University, Wichita FallsPolytechnic High• Valedictorian Nguyet Nguyen, TCU, Fort Worth• Salutatorian Melissa Chaparro-Santillan, TCU, Fort WorthSuccess High• Valedictorian Imani Issa, Tarrant County College, Northeast• Salutatorian Tika Khatiwada, Tarrant County College, Northeast, and University of Texas at ArlingtonSouth Hills High• Valedictorian Shayanne Delin, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Lanicia Carver, TCU, Fort WorthSouthwest High• Valedictorian Cody Davis, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Ashley Menendez, Howard University, Washington, D.C.Trimble Tech High• Valedictorian Karla O. Alvarado, Texas Woman’s University, Denton • Salutatorian Kimberly Bui, University of North Texas, DentonAlvarado school districtAlvarado High• Valedictorian Paige Woodard, Tarleton State University, Stephenville Arlington school districtArlington High• Valedictorian Julie Hong, Dallas Baptist University• Salutatorian Michael Andrew Atwood, University of Texas at AustinBowie• Valedictorian Radhiyah Himawan, University of Texas at Arlington• Salutatorian Mary Dang, University of Texas at ArlingtonLamar• Valedictorian Connie Siu, Massachusetts Institute of Technoloy, Cambridge, Mass.• Salutatorian Tiffany Ying Wang, University of Texas at ArlingtonMartin• Valedictorian Benjamin Yang, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Kate Danyu Chen, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.Sam Houston• Valedictorian Alma Guadalupe Luna, TCU, Fort Worth• Salutatorian An L. Ha, Texas A&M University, College StationSeguin• Valedictorian Daniel Nguyen, Southwestern University, Georgetown• Salutatorian Brandilyn Monene, University of Texas at Arlington Birdville school districtBirdville High• Valedictorian Vy Ngoc Phan, Vanderbilt University, Nashville• Salutatorian Rebekah Maria Brand, University of Texas at AustinHaltom High• Valedictorian James Morgan Sawyer, Baylor University, Waco• Salutatorian Vy Vu, University of North Texas, Denton.Richland High• Valedictorain Ryan Itoh, TCU, Fort Worth• Salutatorian TJ Wilkins, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla. Burleson school districtBurleson High• Valedictorian Alaina Grace Smith, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Morgan Abigail Seamster, Trinity University, San AntonioBurleson Centennial• Valedictorian Lauren Peters, Abilene Christian University• Salutatorian Dylan Johnson, University of Texas at AustinCarroll school districtCarroll Senior High• Valedictorian Eunice P. Lee, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.Castleberry school districtCastleberry High• Valedictorian Alycea Vitela, Texas A&M, College Station• Salutatorian John Alegria, Texas A&M, College Station Crowley school districtCrowley High• Valedictorian Mary Elbanna, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson• Salutatorian Taylor Baumgard, University of Nebraska, LincolnNorth Crowley High• Valedictorian Megan Goh, University of Houston• Salutatorian Bailey Barksdale, Texas A&M University, College Station Eagle Mountain -Saginaw school districtBoswell High• Valedictorian Joseph Hood, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Coby Felts, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.Saginaw High• Valedictorian Garrett Tow, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.• Salutatorian Prisca Pungwe, Baylor University, WacoEverman school districtEverman Joe C. Bean High• Valedictorian Rebecca Tran, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Paola Gonzalez, University of Texas at AustinGrapevine-Colleyville school districtColleyville Heritage• Valedictorian Katherine Alexander Tees, Rice University, Houston• Salutatorian Kimberly Ha, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.Grapevine High• Valedictorial Daniel Minsuk Kwak, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia• Salutatorian Erin Elizabeth Risk, University of Chicago Hurst-Euless- Bedford school districtL.D. Bell• Valedictorian Serin Thomas, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Michael Vincent Adams, University of Texas at AustinTrinity High School• Salutatorian Pradyotha Kanchustambham, University of Texas at Dallas Keller school districtCentral High• Valedictorian Younghoon Daniel Lee, Rice University, Houston• Salutatorian Samuel Isaac Etkind, University of Texas at AustinFossil Ridge• Valedictorian Betty Le Tong, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Ruzseth Anne Sandoval Dela Cruz, University of Texas at AustinKeller High• Valedictorian Cayla Marie Martin, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.• Salutatorian Sonya Annie Mannala, University of Pennsylvania, PhiladelphiaTimber Creek High• Valedictorian Chandler Kae Funderburg, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.• Salutatorian Allison Marie Thomas, Dallas Baptist University Kennedale school districtKennedale High• Valedictorian Isabelle Erickson, University of Texas at Austin Lake Worth school districtLake Worth High• Valedictorian Diego Vega, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Kaleigh Bell, University of North Texas, Denton Mansfield school districtFrontier High• Valedictorian Katherine Do, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene• Salutatorian Jay Harkara, University of Texas at Dallas, RichardsonLegacy High• Salutatorian Samantha Singarella, University of Texas at AustinMansfield High• Valedictorian Megan Marie Broussard, Rider University, Lawrenceville, N.J.• Salutatorian Yuan-Min Lo, University of Texas at AustinTimberview• Valedictorian Blake Alan Rainey, Southern Methodist University, Dallas• Salutatorian Martin Maurice Estes, University of Texas at AustinNorthwest school districtByron Nelson High• Valedictorian Morgan Christine Schmidt, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah• Salutatorian Jenna Scarlett Erickson, Brigham Young University, Provo, UtahNorthwest High• Valedictorian Caren Stuebe, Boston University• Salutatorian Amanda Walker, Baylor University, WacoSteele Accelerated High• Valedictorian Jonathan Hilgendorf, University of North Texas, Denton• Salutatorian Grant Hase, Texas A&M University, College Station Springtown school districtSpringtown High• Valedictorian Madeline Sloan Marsh, TCU, Fort Worth• Salutatorian Kittie Elizabeth Sandlin, Abilene Christian UniversityWeatherford school districtWeatherford High• Valedictorian Rebecca Harlow, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Michael “Bailey” Hulsey, University of Texas at AustinWhite Settlement school districtBrewer High• Valedictorian Rebecca Craft, Trinity University, San Antonio• Salutatorian Emily Cotton, University of Texas at AustinPrivate schoolsCalvary Christian Academy, Fort Worth• Valedictorian Courtney West, Abilene Christian University• Salutatorian Giang Nyugen, University of Texas at ArlingtonFort Worth Academy of Fine Arts• Valedictorian Grace Frazor, Converse College, Spartanburg, S.C.• Salutatorian Kirstin Hill, Cornish College of the Arts, SeattleFort Worth Country Day• Valedictorian Kaelyn Scoville, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Meghann Kasal, Swarthmore College, Pa.Grace Preparatory Academy, Arlington• Valedictorian Joshua John Joens, University of Texas at Arlington• Co-Salutatorian Andrew Joseph Estes, Dallas Baptist University• Co-Salutatorian Tylar Chance Cowart, Texas State University, San MarcosGrapevine Faith Christian School• Valedictorian Emily Anderson., Texas A&M University, College StationNolan Catholic High School, Fort Worth• Valedictorian Madeleine Anne Marshall. University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Patrick Richard Phelps, University of Tulsa, Okla.The Oakridge School, Arlington• Valeditctorian Melissa Geisel, Washington University, St. Louis• Co-Salutatorian Carter Fraser, Washington University, St. Louis• Co-Salutatorian Amit Narawane, University of Texas at AustinPantego Christian Academy• Salutatorian McKenna Avery, University of Texas at ArlingtonTemple Christian School, Fort Worth• Valedictorian Michelle Renee Tadlock, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago• Salutatorian Duncan Forrest Simoneaux, Texas Tech University, LubbockTrinity Valley, Fort Worth• Co-Valedictorian Chatwin Mabry Jackson IV, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.• Co-Valedictorian William Douglas Jones, University of ChicagoThose who were not able to attend Wednesday’s photo shoot include: Dunbar High, Fort Worth• Valedictorian Brittany Johnson, Texas A&M University, College Station Eastern Hills High, Fort Worth• Salutatorian Melissa Baltazar, Texas A&M University, College Station Paschal High, Fort Worth• Valedictorian Willis Harvey, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Erik Nguyen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.Western Hills High, Benbrook• Valedictorian Larry J. Runnels, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.• Salutatorian Juhun Bae, Rice University, HoustonAledo High• Valedictorian Heather Nickelson, Baylor University, Waco• Salutatorian Madison Bennett, Texas A&M University, College Station.Alvarado High• Salutatorian Amanda Cadenhead, Texas A&M, College StationAzle High• Valedictorian Jamie Backiel, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Kyle Petter, Baylor University, Waco Trinity High School• Valedictorian Wendy Davidson, University of Texas at Austin Kennedale High• Salutatorian Theresa Dinh, Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa Lake Ridge• Valedictorian Kirsten Brown, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Ashley Marino, Baylor University, Waco Legacy High• Valedictorian Laura Baker, Northeastern University, BostonSummit• Valedictorian Nicholas James Toliver, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.• Salutatorian Christina Waiyin Koo, University of Texas at Arlington Carroll Senior High, Southlake• Salutatorian Hope A. Miller, Texas A&M University, College Station Westlake Academy• Valedictorian Taylor Braun, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.• Salutatorian Jordan Lee, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.Covenant Christian Academy, Colleyville• Valedictorian Shelbie Leigh Embrey, University of Texas at Austin• Salutatorian Katherine Brady Meadows, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.Fort Worth Christian School, N. Richland Hills• Valedictorian Holly Marissa Hague, Texas A&M University, College Station• Salutatorian Payton Glenn DeLong, Harding University, Searcy, Ark. Grapevine Faith Christian School• Salutatorian Andrew Paul Aitelli, University of Texas at Austin Pantego Christian Academy• Valedictorian Daniel Norwood, Harding University, Searcy, Ark.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown