Profile on AHS val and sal

Profile on AHS val and sal
Posted on 05/23/2019
Profile on AHS val and sal

‘Doing well is a choice you make’

AHS val, sal share internal drive to succeed


By Toni Garrard Clay

AISD Communications Coordinator


Athens High School Valedictorian Natalie Harrell and Salutatorian Yuvia Leon have something in common, not only with each other but with all high-achievers: a willingness to work hard when no one else is watching.


“It’s a very internal thing. … When I began taking more college courses, I realized I had to take it into my own hands to do well,” said Harrell, who, like Leon, earned an associate’s degree May 10 from Trinity Valley Community College as part of the Pinnacle Early College High School program. “That’s when you see the defining line between those who procrastinate and those who don’t, when there’s no teacher making you do your work.”


Leon puts it succinctly: “Doing well is a choice that you make … I chose to prioritize academics. I’m not studying like mad, but when I have to get something done, I’ll get it done.”


Both young women were heavily involved in extracurricular activities as students. Harrell served as president of the AHS student council, was a member of the National Honor Society, earned the distinction of being an Athens Public Education Foundation (APEF) Superintendent’s Scholar for four years, and played tennis..


Leon was also a four-year APEF Superintendent’s Scholar. She played flute and piccolo for the Pride of the Hornets Band, earning a spot in the state band all four years. She co-founded the AHS science club, and, as a member of the math UIL team, advanced to the state meet. She was also president of the AHS National Honor Society.


“When I was younger, I was a nerd but didn’t know it,” laughed Leon. “Reading books was so much fun to me. … That helped determined my behavior at school.”


Harrell credits having “great teachers and professors who not only helped me learn, but helped me grow as a person.”


Leon said she was fortunate to have teachers who were willing to put in time outside of school on her behalf. “They made a personal investment in my success and pushed me forward,” she said.


Harrell is the daughter of Mark Harrell and Julie Harrell. She plans to attend the University of North Texas. Leon is the daughter of Juan and Angelica Leon. She plans to attend Columbia University.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.