WACO, Texas – The Class of 2020 valedictorians and salutatorians for University and Waco High Schools learned of their class rank honors in a unique way on Wednesday.

Campus administrators surprised the four top students at their homes with balloons and yard signs. 

University High School’s Daiaudrea London-Ridge and Waco High School’s Sophia Swenke were announced as valedictorians, and University High’s Ivette Padron and Waco High’s Paris Hookham earned salutatorian status.

“I am so proud of these four outstanding students,” Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said. “This has been an incredibly tough year for our seniors, but it’s so important that we celebrate their accomplishments. Being named valedictorian and salutatorian of your high school class is a unique honor, and I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing great things from each of them in the future.”

Daiaudrea London-Ridge is active in National Honor Society, the U.S. Department of Education’s Upward Bound program, the Greater Waco Chamber’s Leadership, Education & Development (LEAD) program and has served as an announcer for WISD- TV. He is a recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates scholarship and will also graduate with his associate degree from MCC. Daiaudrea will be attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in accounting.

“Daiaudrea makes it a point to put a smile on everyone’s face,” University High School Principal Dr. Ricky Edison said. “He’s the type of student that teachers will be sharing positive stories about to their future classes. He has worked very hard to get to where he is today, and I’m incredibly proud of him.”

Ivette Padron is also a member of the Upward Bound program and serves as president of the National Honor Society, participates in Texas Association of Future Educators and Future Business Leaders of America, and serves as a WISD CTE ambassador. She is a Terry Scholar recipient and will earn her associate degree from MCC. She will be attending the University of North Texas and plans to double major in communications and sociology.

“Ivette has always been so motivated to succeed at anything she puts her mind to,” Edison said. “She’s been a dedicated student who cares about the well-being of her peers and teachers. I know she’ll continue to keep that positive attitude and love of learning.”  

Sophia Swenke participates in a number of academic and athletic groups including National Honor Society, mock trial team, varsity tennis and orchestra, and was a state qualifier for debate and history fair. An AP Scholar with Distinction, Swenke has also received recognitions as a Wacoan magazine Star Student, Smoaky’s Academic All-Star Student and Waco Rotary Club Youth Citizenship Award Finalist. She has been accepted into the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin.

“Sophia is a great young woman and student leader who has worked hard to achieve this accomplishment,” Waco High School Principal James Stewart said. “She has dedicated herself to excellence in academics and in her many extracurricular activities. I’m so proud that Sophia represents Waco High School and the Class of 2020 as valedictorian. 

Paris Hookham joins Swenke as an AP scholar and fellow three-year Waco ISD Academic Achiever. She is a member of the National Honor Society, was a state history fair qualifier, and has participated in varsity tennis, soccer and orchestra while also serving as an athletic trainer for four years and volunteering for the Special Olympics. Paris will be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall to study mathematics.

“Paris is an exceptional student who has committed herself to excellence in her academic pursuits,” Stewart said. “She’s maintained a high standard for herself and that drive is evident in her studies and extracurricular participation. It’s really exciting that she’ll be joining Sophia at UT Austin in the fall.”

We at FOX44 would like to say congratulations to Daiaudrea, Sophia, Ivette Padron and Paris on their accomplishments!

Source: Waco Independent School District