School names top students for year

May 15, 2016
Temple Daily Telegram

Since he was a freshman at New Tech High School @ Waskow, Andrew McMahon has had his eye on the No. 1 spot in his class.

“My freshman year I thought, ‘hmm, this seems like an attainable goal,’” he said. “So then I decided to make a push for it.”

Now a senior and a couple weeks out from graduation, McMahon has secured the valedictorian position out of 103 students graduating.

“Once I got that first ranking I didn’t want to let up,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the person who had something and let it go.”

He has lived in Belton for the past 12 years and will be attending the University of Virginia this fall to follow his parents, who are relocating for a new job opportunity.
McMahon, a “die-hard Chicago Cubs fan” said he has chosen to pursue statistics in college.

“I love sports,” he said. “I picked my major based off of a movie.”

That movie, which centers on both professional baseball and numbers, is “Moneyball.”

Heather Parker, a good pal and study partner of McMahon’s, is this year’s salutatorian.

“We have actually been very good friends since our freshman year,” Parker said about their similar involvement with extracurricular activities like National Honor Society and Key Club. “And actually this year we have the exact same classes.”

Parker said her father influenced her to strive for the top after he was ranked third in his class.

“He said he always regretted not making that final push to get to second,” she said.

Parker was previously ranked third and recently got bumped to second.

Both students are highly involved in the school’s band and wind ensemble. McMahon plays the trumpet and Parker, the French horn. He said since they were freshman they have seen the band excel and receive top-notch ratings at competition.

Parker has been a section leader in the Belton Marching 100 for the past two years.

It has been a huge part of my life,” Parker said. “All of the people in band are amazing and they are the people that got me through this.”

In the fall, Parker will be down the interstate attending the University of Texas at Austin. She completed a capstone project on Parkinson’s disease and is interested in learning about neurodegenerative disorders — what she plans to study in college.

After living in Massachusetts for eight years Parker said she was happy to come back to Texas which allowed her to spend valuable time with her grandparents before they passed away. She said it was a time when she needed direction and inspiration.

“It was difficult for me to find the drive to actually do my school work and my grades started to slip,” Parker said. “My band director, Mr. (Scott) Dudley, has been such a fantastic influence the last four years. His dad got really sick for a while, and of course it affected him, but he never lost his strive to push the band to do excellent things and that was definitely inspiring.”

As a freshman, McMahon received the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout — the highest rank possible for the Boys Scouts of America, which requires the completion of an extensive service project.

Despite having a GPA well over the 100 mark, both students still say they feel nervous about transitioning to college.

“There will be a lot of people there who will be just like me — who will seem like a carbon copy of my resume.” McMahon said.

New Tech Principal Jill Ross begs to differ and foresees the duo continuing their academic excellence throughout college.

“They are very genuine and humble,” Ross said. “And they don’t realize how exceptional they are. When they arrive at their college campuses next year they will take that same work ethic that they learned and refined here at New Tech with them — and they will be stars.”