• Top Waco high school grads are staying home this fall — at Baylor

    A collage of 10 senior portraits

    Every year, the Waco newspaper highlights the area’s top high school graduates — valedictorians and salutatorians from across Central Texas. Readers of this year’s feature might be struck by a common theme: An exceptional number of Waco’s top students are staying right here in Waco for college, and enrolling at Baylor this fall.

    Meet 10 such leading members of #BU27:

    Paige Badinger, the valedictorian at Bishop Louis Reicher High School, was also student council president, a second-place finisher at the TAPPS state science fair, and a state champion with the Jazzcats Dance Team. At Baylor, she’ll be part of the Science Research Fellows program, focusing on chemistry, while also minoring in dance.

    Luke Hanysak, valedictorian at Valor Preparatory Academy, played basketball with Texas Wind and was leader of Valor’s House of Ausardia. He plants to study business as a Hankamer Scholar while also studying on the pre-med track.

    Kassidy Robinson, valedictorian at Lorena High School just outside Waco, did a little bit of everything: a National Merit Commended Scholar, National Honor Society officer, kids’ ministry volunteer, even a math tutor. As a pre-med student at Baylor, she’ll major in nutrition and minor in American Sign Language.

    Haven Rounke, salutatorian at Rapoport Academy’s Meyer High School in East Waco, won four VASE medals from the Texas Art Education Association. He plans to study theatre technology at Baylor.

    Dahbin Shim, an academic excellence honoree at Vanguard College Preparatory School, was also a National Merit Commended Scholar, an AP Scholar with Distinction, a magna cum laude award winner on the National Latin Exam, and sixth-place finisher at the state golf tournament. She will study engineering at Baylor.

    Will Stimson, salutatorian (and Hanysak’s classmate) at Valor, found his calling in Valor’s theatre productions, even attending a summer acting school at NYU. He plans to study theatre performance at Baylor.

    Cori Taylor, salutatorian at McGregor High School south of Waco, was head drum major, captain of the cross country team, and a UIL state qualifier in Number Sense. He’ll study electrical and computer engineering at Baylor.

    Hannah Leigh Ann Vicars, salutatorian at West High School north of Waco, is another theatre star: West’s Thespian of the Year, an area all-star in one-act play, and a UIL regional qualifier in two events. She will major in theatre with a minor in film and media management, planning on a career as a theatre educator or in the Christian film industry.

    Becca Weaver, valedictorian at Premier High School, was a Waco Rotary Club Youth Citizenship award nominee, member of the Spanish Club and water polo team, and served on a mission trip to Guatemala — all as a long COVID survivor. At Baylor, she’ll study business, majoring in sports strategy and sales.

    Marissa Zechmann, the salutatorian (and Robinson’s classmate) at Lorena High, was captain of the Lorena Legacy Drill Team, saxophone section leader in the band, and a member of National Honor Society. She plans to major in environmental studies at Baylor.

    Sic ’em, #BU27!