Digital animation continues to evolve and the newest Waxahachie Global High valedictorian plans to continue the innovation as a fourth-generation Disney illustrator.

But first, Dallin Clarke will attend Brigham Young University, which houses a prominent digital animation program that serves as a pipeline into Disney's Pixar Animation Studio.

Clarke's family history with Disney began with his great-grandfather, who is too old for him to remember. His grandmother, Judith Holmes-Clarke, was instrumental in the "fairy project" that created Tinker Bell. Clarke also said his aunt, Samantha Hollister, formerly worked as an illustrator too.

"Since I was young I've always been drawing and into character design and creating stories," Clarke explained. "It's really cool that the college that I want to go to is not only supportive of my church but also something that I'm interested in."

Clarke currently attends the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He explained an early leader of the church founded a college in 1875 for people in Utah to support students with subsidized tuition, which later became BYU.

Clarke received a half-tuition scholarship and a few extras tacked on to help pay off the $5,460 tuition.

Forbes named the private university one of America's Best Value Colleges for 2019. Admission into the animation program is selective, as it is limited to 100 students.

"BYU's animation program touts 40 alumni at Dreamworks and 15 at Pixar," states to a Daily Herald 2018 article. "And of Pixar's nine internship spots every summer, out of 1,200 applicants, BYU almost always has at least one student in a slot."

For Clarke, the notable title of valedictorian "means that I did dedicate a lot of time to learning and pursuing education."

Before that, he noted, "I think it shows that I work hard, and sometimes it does take me a longer time to understand things, but I'm willing to put in the effort. Being the valedictorian means that I did dedicate a lot of time to learning and pursuing education."

"I hold education very, very important," Clarke emphasized. "I think that you should never stop learning; you should never be satisfied with how much you know. There are always more things to figure out — skills to develop. It's always been a personal drive to do the best I can."

Clarke was born in California and then moved to Utah, which is where his parents met while attending BYU. When the recession hit, it hit the Clarke family hard.

The next year the Clarkes moved to Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona and then back to Utah. The stint in Texas made an impression, so the family traveled back to Waxahachie in 2010.

He was homeschooled up until high school.

"I loved it," Clarke noted about the alternative method of education. "It was great when we were traveling. My mom loves teaching, and as we went through the United States, we were learning about the history of America."

"It was more hands-on, work at your own pace," he added. "I guess, in my case, was a little faster than normal. I would definitely not trade my experience for homeschooling."

Clarke visited the BYU campus several times and did not know about the animation program until his junior year, "which was a nice surprise in a way to figure that out because I always kind of assumed I'd have to figure out a major that I was interested in that was offered. They just happened to go together."

He admitted to be between animation and engineering during his junior year at Global. After he took both courses, he knew what his future would hold.

"I love to be able to see something in my head and be able to transfer it to something someone can see — kind of like sharing my ideas with people. It's weird to work in a 3-D program because it seems so much more real."

One of his first creations in 3-D was a cup, and he'd like to advance his skills because "I'd love to work for Disney or Pixar. Either one. I'd be satisfied if I worked for DreamWorks. I just want to get into one of those studios and make movies."

Clarke lives in Midlothian and starts his mornings at 7 a.m., instructing an hour-long seminar and participates in youth activities on Wednesdays. He received his Eagle status with the Boys Scouts on Sunday, was a senior editor for the Global High yearbook, and participated in the National Honors Society, Art Club, Technology Student Association, and tutors children when needed.

"Global is the best way to get to know the kids in your grade," Clarke noted about his public school experience. "Because you are in class with everybody, you build a strong sense of spirit together; you have a tight-knit community. It's really cool because we are all sharing the same experiences."

- - - - - 

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450