The valedictorian of Waxahachie Global High School, Jonah Taylor, said the status of his academic success does not define him. In fact, Taylor contends it is a tiny part of who he is.
The extracurriculars associated with Boy Scouts, his passions for technology and music combined with the continued family support have shaped him into the man he is today.
In school, he participated in the first robotics club on campus where he had six weeks to construct a robot to perform in a game. Taylor was named the build captain and led his team. The best the team placed was seventh at a regional event.
“I was the mentor of a smaller elementary school robotics team at Felty the last couple of years," Taylor elaborated. "I was their go-to technical person because I knew a bit more about the robots. That was pretty fun.”
Outside of school, he was heavily involved in Boy Scouts, and for his capstone Eagle Scout project, he constructed and distributed five "care" grocery boxes across Waxahachie in 2017. He also served as the senior patrol leader of Troop 232.
“You learn a lot about how to manage people, especially when you have to manage 20 12-year-olds. We had a large influx of younger kids that year. That was an interesting experience," he explained.
Taylor was involved in the Drum Core International, which is a summer marching band program. He described it as “a very intense activity but was rewarding.”
When Taylor attends Texas A&M University in the fall to study engineering, he will also participate in the school’s basketball band and the jazz band. These musical opportunities are essential for Taylor because that is where his passion is — producing music and also creating video games.
He disclosed that he was fortunate to not have any significant setbacks in life during his high school years. But there was a time last year when his father was diagnosed with cancer. Though he relayed that the cancer was small, there were a few scary moments.
His drive was his family. His parents did not pressure him to be the best, but he wanted to be the best for them. They have always supported his endeavors.
Taylor credits his time management skills as a key to his finishing as the Global High School Class of 2018 valedictorian.
Even if he could not always participate in all of the social events, Taylor expressed how he did not think any sacrifice was involved during his four years of high school.
“I’m glad that I was able to keep a balance in my life. I did have to spend more time on academics than a lot of other people, and it didn’t take over my life, and I’m glad about that," he expressed.
He added, “Your successes and failures don’t really define you. That was one thing that I struggled with. I’m used to wanting to be the best at everything. It’s purely a personal thing. When given the opportunity I love to just grind something out and be the best at it. And that’s not a very healthy mindset. And quickly in high school, I realized, ‘don’t do that.’”
When looking back on this high school years, he left his classmates with a message of the past instead of trying to figure out the future. The theme of his speech was reminiscing about the fun memories and gave a thoughtful goodbye. His speech was more reflective rather than predictive.
A line from his speech read, “The future is going to happen whether we want it to or not and our plans are inevitably going to change.”
He then shared a memorable and comical story that he will always hold onto.
He told the story of his classmates and teacher opening up these mystery boxes that had a watermelon, honeydew, and pineapple. Confused, the students started to cut the fruits with plastic knives but failed to open the watermelon.
“So one of my friends took the watermelon that was like halfway cut, my friend Jack, he had these tear away pants — he had those on for some reason — and took the watermelon and crushed it between his thighs and sprayed watermelon juice all over the floor in the middle of class.”
He is looking forward to the openness and freedom of college and progress forward but is intimidated by it all at the same time. He is excited that the future is coming, but he will miss the security blanket of his local friends.
With the people he interacted with and befriended, he hopes the values instilled by his parents rubbed off onto others.
He thinks he made a more significant impression in Boy Scouts after being the oldest member of the troop at one time and taught respect when leading and the proper way to lead.
“I’m hoping that in my boy scout troop that I’ve left them at a better place than they started with and are more prepared to grow the troop and move toward the future with capable leaders," Taylor added.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450