Abilene High School’s valedictorian for the 2024 graduating class is Belle Marz (front right). The salutatorian is Sydney Spell (sitting next to Marz).

2024 AISD Graduation Information

Abilene ISD Communications

A few years ago, all Belle Marz knew about Yale University or its hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, was what she learned when she watched the latest episode of Gilmore Girls.

But she got a first-hand view of the campus last month on a three-day visit that sealed her decision to attend the nation’s fourth-oldest university (founded in 1701) after she graduates on May 24 as the valedictorian of the Abilene High School Class of 2024.

“I started looking at schools during my freshman and sophomore years in high school,” said Marz, who has been atop the class rankings since she was a freshman. “The Ivy League is prestigious, and I was fascinated with Yale because Gilmore Girls was my favorite show. I enjoyed the university on my visit because everyone was so welcoming, and the campus is beautiful.”

Marz was one of 58 student names announced on AISD’s three high school campuses Tuesday morning as AHS, Cooper High School, and ATEMS revealed their top graduates. The Top 25 graduates at AHS and Cooper and the Top 10 Percent at ATEMS (eight students) were announced. Noelle Mathis is the valedictorian at Cooper and Tristan Reyna is the valedictorian at ATEMS.

The varied interests of the district’s top graduates were evident in their preferred majors as they listed everything from architecture to vocal performance, engineering to rangeland/wildlife and fisheries management, nursing to pharmaceutical chemistry, microbiology, and commercial aviation to data analytics.

Marz has a full, four-year scholarship to Yale and received the same offer from the nation’s oldest university, Harvard. She will study molecular biophysics and biochemistry and aspires to move on to the Yale School of Medicine after finishing her undergraduate work. She plans to study either neurosurgery to become a neurosurgeon or reproductive endocrinology to become an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) doctor. She is leaning toward becoming an IVF doctor so she can help couples who are having difficulty conceiving.

She said that becoming the valedictorian of the class was never her goal.

“I’ve always been dedicated to school, and I love learning,” Marz said. “I enjoy the people (at AHS) and building relationships with teachers has always been important. Getting good grades has always validated me, so I stressed out over grades more than my family did.”

“As I got into my junior year and started to think about schools and where I wanted to go, I started thinking I could be the valedictorian,” she said. “I applied to Yale and was fortunate to get the chance to go to school at an amazing place.”

Mathis thought she had a good chance to be the valedictorian at Cooper but wasn’t sure until just before the ceremony began and the Top 25 students were lined up in reverse order. Realizing hers would be the last name called validated her thought that she would be the valedictorian.

“This was never really a goal going into high school; I was kind of oblivious to this kind of thing,” said Mathis, who will study public health at Texas A&M University. “The first semester of my sophomore year is when it became real for me.”

Mathis, who plans to attend nursing school to become a labor and delivery nurse, will carry 30-60 college hours into A&M, depending on the outcome of upcoming AP tests.

The last few days have been a whirlwind for Reyna. Last Saturday he won the state championship in the vault at the Texas High School Gymnastics Coaches Association championship meet in El Paso, scoring a perfect 10 in the final round. Then on Tuesday morning, he was announced as the valedictorian at ATEMS.

“It’s been an exciting week,” said Reyna, who will study Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M and plans to work in the aerospace industry. “I needed a 9.8 on my final vault to win it, and I was thinking, ‘Stick the landing. Stick the landing.’ I did, and it was a great moment.”

Which begs the question of which was better: winning the vault with a perfect score or being announced as valedictorian?

“That’s a tough question to answer,” Reyna said. “The more exciting event was seeing the ‘10’ on the board because it was a great moment to share with my teammates and coaches. But this is a sweet moment because I’ve worked as long and hard for this as that ‘10.’ ”

Student, college destination
1. Belle Marz, Yale University
2. Sydney Spell, Undecided
3. Marin Murray, Lubbock Christian University
4. Luke Padon, Baylor University
5. Mallory Traylor, Baylor University
6. Ryann Liu, University of Texas
7. Macy Loudermilk, Texas A&M University
8. Mo Carroll, Baylor University
9. Isabel Gebhart, Oklahoma State University
10. Deevya Patel, Texas A&M University
11. Josh Melson, Texas A&M University
12. Austin Hendrickson, Texas A&M University
13. Tarynn Bridge, University of North Carolina
14. Jentry Bennett, Hardin-Simmons University
15. Hope Arrazola, University of North Texas
16. Adi Pilit, Angelo State University
17. Sawyer Moss, Oklahoma State University
18. Sean Williams, Undecided
19. Carlos Romero Angeles, Hardin-Simmons University
20. James Nichols, Airline Transport Professionals Flight School
21. Maddox Loudermilk, Texas A&M University
22. Addison Koslan, Texas A&M University
23. Kevin Rivera, Abilene Christian University
24. Sarah Richert, Abilene Christian University
25. Amara McGee, Hardin-Simmons University

Student, college destination
1. Noelle Mathis, Texas A&M University
2. Logan Hamilton, Abilene Christian University
3. Anthony “Orion” Smith, Texas Tech University
4. Emily Whan, Texas Christian University
5. Jenna Herera, Angelo State University
6. Avery Clark, Tarleton State University
7. Colton Roady, Abilene Christian University
8. Anica Hajri, McMurry University
9. Ashton Peterson, University of Texas
10. Jazlyn Hatcher, University of Texas-San Antonio
11. Landon Oakes, Angelo State University
12. Cassie Rae Bryan, Texas Tech University
13. Maleah Hudson, McMurry University
14. Alan Harris, University of Alaska-Fairbanks
15. Emily Wade, Texas State University
16. Alissa Ramirez, University of Texas
17. Emilia Friend, Brigham Young University
18. Aaliyah Ramirez, University of Texas
19. Alyssa del Castillo, Texas Tech University
20. Mason Rodriguez, Texas Tech University
21. Zahara Quince, Undecided
22. Sarah Fox, Undecided
23. Bernadette “Bernie” Moropoulos, University of Oregon
24. Savvy Abor, University of Texas-San Antonio
25. Mikayla Jackson, Undecided

Student, college destination
1. Tristan Reyna, Texas A&M University
2. Lucas David, Texas A&M University
3. Logan Daniel, Angelo State University
4. Gwendolyn Hunderliter, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
5. Dathan Dillinger, Angelo State University
6. Cory Rodriguez, University of Texas-Arlington
7. Maleah Davis, University of Texas
8. Benjamin Weems, Abilene Christian University