Conor Duffy and Benjamin Byle both moved to Texas from Europe as teens. Despite coming to a new country, both students were able to excel in the Northwest school district. Both finished as the valedictorian at their respective school.
Duffy finished first in his class at Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club while Byle is the valedictorian of Steele Accelerated High School in Roanoke. Jared Cormier is the salutatorian at Nelson while Steele does not name a salutatorian, Principal Robin Ellis said.
Northwest High School valedictorian honors went to Andrew Ong Yong Hsin Schindler, and salutatorian was Elizabeth Catherine Gardner.
Duffy, 17, is from Ireland but moved to Trophy Club in 2011 a few weeks before the start of his freshman year. He plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the honors business program and will possibly minor in Spanish.
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“My dream job is to work for one of the big consulting firms somewhere on the West Coast,” Duffy said. “The amount of travel that consultants do right out of college really appeals to me.”
His most lasting memory of high school, he said, was attending his first football game. “My first Byron football game: It was only then that I realized that everything truly is bigger in Texas!” Duffy said.
Cormier, the salutatorian, will also be attending the UT-Austin this fall and will be majoring in electrical engineering.
“I would like to work in computer engineering, either developing the software or hardware for advancing technologies, and be on the team of a top technological or Internet company,” Cormier said.
Byle, an 18-year-old from the Roanoke area, plans to attend the University of Texas at Dallas, where he will major in applied mathematics.
“It’s basically working with cutting-edge technology,” Byle said of his intended major and career path. “I’m looking for a way to work with technology and reinvent it. I’m looking for a way to make a name for myself.”
Byle came to Texas from southern Spain early in his junior year. He began at Nelson but soon switched to Steele, which he said fit his particular educational goals. He will begin at UT-Dallas with 21 college credit hours – nearly enough to qualify as a sophomore.
“It was all that I was looking for and more,” Byle said of Steele. “They treat us like adults. I was able to make a lot of friends. And I enjoyed the personal relationship with the teachers.”
Ellis said that Steele is a small campus that is focused on providing personalized educational experiences for its students through dual-credit opportunities and the chance for early graduation. The school’s cosmetology program also have a chance at early licensure in their intended field of work.
“Our campus offers significant opportunities for community service in lieu of extracurricular activities, allowing our students to focus on their academic pursuits and future goals,” Ellis said.
Byle and his classmates did not have the sports teams, pep rallies and other events common at other schools. But Steele students are looking for a different kind of experience.
“It is not a traditional high school experience,” Ellis said. “But not every student is looking for that kind of environment in high school.”
Byle said his parents had always intended to bring him to the United States for college. They decided to move to Texas when his father received an excellent job opportunity. Byle, who said he is enjoying living in the United States, plans to get a driver’s license this summer.
“It’s really fun,” Byle said. “The only thing I miss back in Spain are my friends.”