Congratulations to the Class of 2023 Top Ten Grads!
Sherman High School hosted its annual Top Ten luncheon May 22 at Austin College, saluting students for their academic accomplishments and recognizing their chosen educators.
Each graduate got an opportunity at the podium to reflect on their high school experience and thank a teacher or coach who had greatly impacted their education in Sherman ISD.
SHS alumna Debbie Estes spoke to students about three important things that would help them be successful in the future: passion - finding a career that you love and living life to the fullest; resilience - never giving up in the face of adversity; and connections, taking the opportunity to build relationships with people to better serve your family, community and country.
Top Ten Grads & Honored Teachers
Congratulations to the Class of 2023 Top Ten graduates, and best wishes in your future endeavors!
Valedictorian Yui Zhu - honored Mrs. Kelsey Batts
Yui Zhu is the valedictorian for the Sherman High School Class of 2023. He is the son of Weibang Zhu and Jinxin Ye. At Sherman High, he was part of NHS, Chess club, National Technical Honor Society, Tennis, and Math UIL. One of his favorite memories at Sherman High happened his junior year when he had to create a video for his AP US History class. Yui worked with a group of friends on the project, and said every part of the process was a joy because it was time spent well with friends and they were able to work together to turn out a good project. He says to be a Bearcat is to be resilient, to be able to endure hard times and come out stronger, and to be able to take on any challenge and overcome any obstacles. He plans to attend UT Austin and work towards a bachelors degree in biomedical engineering. He hopes to then be involved in making technology that can accommodate the needs of people with illnesses. His message to the graduating class: “Nothing worthwhile is ever free, it has to be earned. I hope that the time I spent during my high school career can be an example of that.”
Salutatorian Lana Wynn - honored Mr. Rodney Pilcher
Lana Wynn is the salutatorian for the Sherman High School Class of 2023. She is the daughter of Don and Cecilia Wynn. She entered Sherman ISD in the 7th grade, and in her time at SHS, she was part of NHS, Senior Council, Key Club, Varsity Tennis, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Lana is going to Texas A&M where she plans to get a doctorate in nursing in order to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. After earning her degree, she says she would like to be a mother of at least 8 children– most of which will be adopted. Coach Rodney Pilcher made the biggest impact on her academic high school career because he taught her discipline. She says some of her favorite memories at Sherman High are with the tennis team. Lana’s message: “I hope that through the legacy I leave, people see the love of Jesus through my behavior. I hope that underclassmen and teachers remember how dedicated I am to being a good friend, and that it inspires them to pursue deeper relationships with the people that they love.”
Zhen Ye - honored Mrs. Sherry Young
Zhen Ye is the daughter of Yihui Ye and Meizhu Weng. She has been a student in Sherman ISD since the 2nd grade. At Sherman High, she was a member of NHS, Game Design club, and BPA. Upon graduating, she plans to attend the University of Virginia to study commerce or economics. Zhen wants to recognize art teacher Sherry Young for having a great impact on her time at Sherman High. She says Mrs. Young’s enthusiastic attitude toward her students allowed her to flourish as an artist both inside and outside the classroom. The three words she says describe her best are adaptive, observant, and thoughtful. Her message: “I hope that by demonstrating empathy and respect for others, it would influence underclassmen and teachers to incorporate these values in future interactions, which would hopefully build a strong, collaborative atmosphere in the community.”
Cash Dement - honored Mr. Stephen Murray
Cash Dement is the son of Matthew and Laura Dement. He entered Sherman ISD in the 5th grade. In high school, he was part of NHS, Key Club, Interact club, Robotics, and Chess club. Cash plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science. His goal is to become a software engineer and help code the future. He says being a Bearcat means being someone who is strong-willed and accomplished; Bearcats are built strong and can do anything. Some of Cash’s fondest memories at SHS include fine arts, BOTA, and his good friend Yui Zhu. He says he hopes to leave a joyful legacy, and for underclassmen to remember that you can be successful while still having fun and making the most of every day. One of his favorite quotes that he’d like to share with the underclassmen is by Mahatma Gandhi, “Learn as if you will live forever, live like you will die tomorrow.”
Jax Dixon - honored Mr. Justin Lugannani
Jax Dixon is the son of Dusty and Stephanie Hart and Jamie Dixon. He joined Sherman ISD in the 3rd grade, and says to be a Bearcat means to persist in accomplishing goals until they are completed, no matter the circumstances or hindrances. Jax will attend Texas A&M and major in international business with a minor in education. He plans to become a missionary so he can plant churches and serve communities around the world. In addition, he would like to be a tennis coach. He says Elementary Gifted and Talented teacher Cyndi Petray had the biggest impact on him as she taught him how to have fun while learning. While at SHS, Jax was varsity tennis team captain, Fellowship of Christian Athletes president, Student Council class officer, chess club vice president, member of NHS and the baseball team. His message: “I hope that I will be remembered for my reverence towards God, but also for my heart for people and desire to serve.”
Paxson Wecker - honored Mr. Chico Aleman
Paxson Wecker is the son of Rodney and Trina Wecker. He has been a student in Sherman ISD since Kindergarten. In his time at Sherman High, he was part of the varsity soccer team, Key Club, NHS, Leo Club, and Business Professionals of America. After graduation, Paxson will be studying business analytics at Abilene Christian University. He says his future plans include finding a job and making money, building and providing for his family, and being a light towards others to honor Jesus. He would like to be remembered as not only being a good soccer player and student, but that he was a good follower of Jesus. His message to the underclassmen, “High school can be tough sometimes. However, when something went wrong, I would just say ‘it is what it is’ and move on. You can’t change the past, and the future hasn’t come yet, so don’t stress and just enjoy the present.”
Mia Passanisi - honored Mrs. Marsha Bayatfar
Mia Passanisi is the daughter of Matthew and Sandra Passanisi. She has been a student in Sherman ISD since Kindergarten. In her time at SHS, she was part of the Student Council, Leadership Team, Cheerleading, Theater and International Thespians Society, NHS, and TRIO Upward Bound A&M Commerce. Mia says she has learned over the years that a Bearcat is someone who always keeps trying, win or lose. Bearcats are hopeful, ambitious, and have a love and pride unlike any other school. After graduating, Mia plans to attend Texas State University, hoping to major in marketing and minor in international business as a member of the Honors College. The three words she uses to describe herself are willing, persistent, and genuine. She hopes to leave behind a legacy of leadership and commitment to encourage her fellow Bearcats to strive for greatness. A quote she would like to share with her peers is by Taylor Swift, “We live in a world where anyone has the right to say anything that they want about you, at any time, but you have the right to prove them wrong.”
Claudia May - honored Mrs. Kathleen Goff
Claudia May is the daughter of Laurence and Zoe May. She became a Sherman ISD student as a 9th grader and says to be a Bearcat means to be a contributing member of the community. After graduating, Claudia will study biology at UT Austin. She hopes to attend pharmacy school after getting her bachelors to one day become a pharmacist. She says her science teacher Kathleen Goff solidified her interest in biology and health sciences. Mrs. Goff made learning entertaining and was one of the best teachers she ever had. While at SHS, she was part of Orchestra, NHS, and HOSA. One of Claudia’s favorite memories as a Bearcat was cheering on all her friends in the homecoming parade this year. She says she tried to mentor younger students, particularly in orchestra, and she hopes those students will be inspired to become leaders themselves. Her message to the graduating class is “always look for ways to help other people succeed.”
Christian Melo - honored Mr. Steve Schutts
Christian Melo is the son of Alfredo and Purita Melo. He entered Sherman ISD in the 7th grade, when he says he first moved to Sherman. Christian says he then found himself a group of friends who welcomed him in the first few weeks of school, which shaped the rest of his time as a Bearcat. He says to be a Bearcat means to improve yourself every single day, week, month, and year to become the best version of yourself even when adversaries stand in your way. During his time at SHS, Christian was part of NHS, HOSA, and art club. He says his passion is his self expression through writing, art, and fashion. In his free time after school work, he enjoys drawing and writing. After graduation, he plans to attend UT Dallas to study neuroscience. His message to his peers: “The legacy I hope to leave behind is that you can be delusional towards your success.”
Ben Barnet - honored Mr. Bryan Batts
Ben Barnet is the son of Laurel and the late Jeff Barnet. He has been a Sherman student since Kindergarten. In his time at Sherman High, he was part of Varsity Tennis, Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Student Council, Key Club, Interact Club, FCA, and Robotics Club. After graduating, he plans to attend UT Dallas to study business with a concentration in supply chain management as a McDermott Scholar. He also plans to play on the tennis team, and ultimately tie his passion for tennis into a business career. He says his science teacher, Bryan Batts, made the biggest impact on his high school career. Ben says he hopes to leave a legacy of intentionally making personal relationships with underclassmen because of the strong friendships and mentors he made throughout high school. A quote he’d like to share is by Matshona Dhliwayo, “The world is already full of critics; to stand out, be an encourager.”