Girls Rule The Wylie Academic World

By Greg Jaklewicz
Abilene Reporter-News, Texas.

Women, on average, may not make the same salary as men in same job, but a group young women certainly have cashed in this year at Wylie High School.

All 10 top students in the Class of 2014 are female. And it’s 11 young women out of 12 seniors who will represent the Wylie ISD at the 55th annual Top Fifty-Plus Senior Banquet later this month.

At the top of Wylie High’s top 10 this year is Noor Al-Sayyad, who came in at No. 1 and is the valedictorian, with Mary E. Engelker finishing as salutatorian at No. 2.

James Walls is the only male among the first dozen. The school has 216 seniors this year.

“It’s usually a pretty good mix. This is a rarity,” Superintendent Joey Light said of the all-girl showing.

“I had no idea.”

Counselor Brenda Sandifer, who has been with the district since 1985, said she could recall only one other year where there was a huge gender dominance.

“Usually it is very balanced,” she said.

Emily Schultz, who came in at No. 8 on the top students list, explained, with some mischief, “There are a lot of smart boys but the girls care more and apply themselves more. We’re more driven. The boys are smart but nonchalant.”

She said she and Laura Preston (No. 9) live on the same street, making it easy to study for tests. Schultz, Preston, Rachel Havlak (No. 6) and Sally Fritz (No. 7) have gone to school together since kindergarten.

Who among them having the best grades never was an issue, said Schultz, who competes Friday in Prose Interpretation at the UIL regional meet in Lubbock. She was named best actress at the district One-Act Play competition.

“We’re all best friends,” Schultz said.

Schultz and Preston will remain close, literally — both are going to Trinity University in San Antonio, Schultz to major in biology and minor in Spanish, and Preston to major in engineering.

Six of the top 12 students plan to attend Texas A&M University, with two each bound for Trinity and Harding in Arkansas. Al-Sayyad is headed for Austin and The University of Texas. Havlak has chosen the University of North Texas in Denton.

Light, a McMurry University graduate, has sent four of his own children to College Station. Though he refers to A&M as the “Harvard of the Southwest,” he said he doesn’t unduly push his seniors toward Aggieland.

“A&M’s presence in the college scene has been raised,” he said. “They’ve put a good product out there.”

The Top 50 banquet is scheduled May 22 at the Abilene Civic Center.


Names of the top 12 students and where they plan to attend universities.

1. Noor Al-Sayyad, University of Texas at Austin

2. Mary E. Engelker, Texas A&M University

3. Brittany Smyser, Harding University

4. Raegan Byington, Texas A&M University

5. Zoe Green, Texas A&M University

6. Rachel Havlak, University of North Texas

7. Sally Fritz, Texas A&M University

8. Emily Schultz, Trinity University

9. Laura Preston, Trinity University

10. Brittane Schaake, Harding University

11. James Walls, Texas A&M University

12. Abigayle Young, Texas A&M University

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