Valeria Cortes – Class of 2021 Valedictorian

Senior Valeria Cortes is the Valedictorian of the Durant High School Class of 2021

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Senior Valeria Cortes is the Valedictorian of the Durant High School Class of 2021

Allie Sigl, Design Editor

Valeria “Val” Cortes always dreamed of being valedictorian of her senior class but knew she would have to challenge and push her limits to get the position. Ending high school with a 9.58 grade-point average, Cortes’ dream became a reality as she was recently named Durant High School’s 2021 valedictorian.

“I had a really strong support system,” Cortes said. “It motivated me to study a lot more, to make sure I turn in my assignments to get them well done, and to take good notes.”

Cortes was motivated throughout her life by her parents who helped instill a hard-working mindset in her ever since she was young. As a result, she began to take advanced placement and dual enrollment classes her freshman year to achieve her goals.

Although her transcript did not officially announce her number one rank until junior year, Cortes continued to play an active part at Durant’s campus, being apart of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and Students All Connected.

“There were a lot of people who wanted [valedictorian] as well, and they are intelligent people, so it was really difficult, you know, to try and figure out what I could do to get ahead,” said Cortes.

For Cortes, one of the best parts about being valedictorian is getting to the position alongside her best friend and salutatorian Shivani Persad. During high school, the two worked to support each other in planning out schedules, staying motivated, and studying.

Looking back on her numerous classes, Cortes credits some of her teachers who have helped make a positive impact throughout the past four years.

“I met Mrs.Mitchell, the AVID teacher, freshman year. She was honestly one of my biggest cheerleaders, and she always knew I could get into this position,” said Cortes. “And then, junior year, I had teachers like Mr.Sawyer, Mr.Stawn, and Mrs.Martin, who were all extremely kind and made their classes enjoyable.”

Cortes will be attending the University of South Florida in the fall with a major in biomedical sciences to become a psychiatrist. As she leaves Durant, she would like to be remembered as hard-working. Cortes also leaves a piece of advice for underclassman and anyone trying to pursue a challenging goal in their life.

“If you stay organize and make goals, and you begin to plan and prepare early, you are always going to get where you want to,” said Cortes. “I recommend not going into high school with the mindset you are just going to vibe it out. Definitely go into it and set goals for yourself so you have something to achieve and something to go for.”