Talisa Harris, ESL Language Instructor, in SSISD, introduces
Angel Tovar-Yanez, the SSISD Valedictorian, to 8th Grade students
at the Middle School, as he spoke to them and encouraged them to
study hard, overcome obstacles, and dream big!
Language Barrier of "No English"
Overcome by SSHS Valedictorian
by: Bobby McDonald
Imagine yourself shipwrecked on a remote island, inhabited with natives that you couldn't converse with, and surrounded by waters infested with sharks! That's about the scenario that Angel Tovar-Yanez, the Valedictorian of Sulphur Springs High School for 2012, found himself with, in August 2008, when his family got their permanent resident status approved, in Mexico and got the "green light" to move to Sulphur Springs. Angel's father, Benito Tovar, had worked in Hopkins County for approximately 25 years, as a welder at trailer manufacturing plant, and obtained his citizenship, many years ago. However, his family, consisting of his wife, Maria, and their three children, had remained in Mexico and applied for their right to enter the U.S., waiting to join him, for many years.
Well, it was in February of 2008, that they received the opportunity to come to the U.S., and began making plans. Angel, the middle child, would finish his 8th grade year in Mexico and entered the U.S., just two weeks before he entered Sulphur Springs High School as a beginning freshman. The only persons he knew in the school were his brother, two years older, and a younger sister.
"I knew no one at Sulphur Springs High School, other than my siblings and I could speak virtually no English," remembers Angel. "About all I could say was, 'I know no English!'"
"I was enrolled in ESL class and carried a full freshman load of Algebra, World Geography, and other such subjects, that were required of entering freshman at school," continued Angel. "And, it was a constant struggle to understand the directions of what I was to do, and I spent many, many nights looking up words in the dictionary. The dictionary became my best friend, but I still struggled with all the 'exceptions to the rules, of English,' as I tried to understand the language."
"But, I learned a very valuable lesson!" advised Angel, as he spoke to 8th Grade students at Middle School, on Tuesday morning. "And, that is to ask questions of your teachers! They're there to help you and guide you in learning the material!"
"And, I encourage each of you to do your work assigned!" continued Angel. "Yes, you can find other things to do, but if you'll do the work and turn in the assignments, you quickly learn the material!"
Mrs. Harris interviewed Angel, and asked him to tell 8th graders about the obstacles
of attending SSHS, not knowing English in the 9th grade.
Obviously an exceptional student, Angel began learning more and more with each day of class and soon found himself learning the English language, and able to both read and write in English.
"I still have problems when I'm required to write an essay in class or take an essay test," relates Angel. "But, when I have time to think about it, and not have to quickly write something, I can figure out all of the tenses and exceptions to the rules!"
By his junior year at Sulphur Springs High School, Angel was entering U.I.L. competitions and learning even more, as he advanced to ninth in his class at Sulphur Springs High School. He found himself being placed in Advanced Placement courses and excelling in them, as well.
Angel has an affinity for science, especially Physics and following advancement in UIL Physics, as well as Chemistry, and Biology, Angel has planned a career in Physics, and has received a full scholarship, complete with living expenses, to attend Rice University, in Houston, where he will enter school in the fall of 2012. His future plans include working in scientific research for NASA or some other major company, that he can apply his scientific interests.
"The world is yours, if you'll apply yourself and tend to business!" encouraged Angel, as he spoke to his younger classmates, on Tuesday morning. "If I can overcome the obstacles that I did, to become the top student out of 244 graduates, you can too! I wasn't even sitting here in a Middle School cafeteria, four years ago! I was still in Mexico and knew no English....so you students have the opportunity to become whatever you make plans to become. And, if you see a student in your class next year, who knows no one, they're just like you, only looking for a place to learn and became a part of your school!"
Congratulations to Angel, on overcoming outstanding odds, and "rising to the top," and we look forward to monitoring his progress, as he serves as the First Hispanic Valedictorian of Sulphur Springs High School and applies his knowledge, work ethic, and character to the great world! You're truly a remarkable young man, Angel Tovar-Yanez!
Angel Tovar-Yanez visits with Middle School teachers and counselors as he inspires them with
his ability to master the English language and become Valedictorian of the class!