On Saturday May 7, Senior Ryan Popp placed ninth at the state level of the UIL science competition.

“It was just awesome,” said Popp. “I just did the best I could.”

Popp advanced to the state competition after achieving the top biology score at the regional level, and was the only Waxahachie student to do so. Popp was a mere eight points away from achieving a top six score, resulting in a medal.

Perhaps even more excited about this victory was Popp’s chemistry teacher and coach, Ms. Kathryn Aday.

“Ryan’s performance was outstanding,” Aday said. “The competition was incredibly tough and I really appreciate his effort.”

Also incredibly proud of Popp’s victory are the heads Academic UIL for Waxahachie High School, Megan Mills and Linda Berry.

“It is a real honor for both him and the school,” said Mills. “It’s a testament to the hard work put in by both him and his coach.”

Mrs. Berry, who taught Popp English his sophomore year, sites his work ethic as the key to his success.

“Since his freshman year Ryan has been set on becoming valedictorian,” said Berry. “It is his commitment to excellence that prompted this achievement.”

Despite not medaling, the magnitude of Popp’s accomplishment is not diminished, as the simple fact that he got to compete was all the vindication he needed.

“The best part was that I got to be with all these smart kids from across the state and seeing how I stacked up against other people.”

Popp, who also served as drum major of the Spirit of Indian Band will graduate as the valedictorian of the class of 2011 on Friday May 27.