Tivy’s top spots announced, recipients surprised with visit

in separate surprise ceremonies conducted Monday morning, Tivy High School’s Will Johnston (left) and Race Risinger (right) were informed of their valedictorian and salutatorian status, respectively, for the Class of 2020. Tivy administration staff visited each of the students personally to present their medals and plaques.

As this unconventional school year comes to a close, the staff at Tivy High School and Kerrville ISD administration have been determined to provide graduating seniors with as much tradition as possible, albeit in creative ways.

Such was the case Monday morning as a caravan of Tivy administration and staff visited seniors Will Johnston and Race Risinger, who have been named class valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

“The tradition is for the announcement to be made during our senior awards ceremony,” Tivy Principal Shelby Balser said. “The valedictorian and salutatorian are announced on stage, in front of their peers, and presented with their plaques and we place the medals around their necks. We wanted to do that this year, too.”

Balser said she made arrangements with the Johnston and Risinger families in advance to surprise the school’s top two seniors.

“We wanted to place that medal around their necks and see them in person,” Balser said. “We couldn’t be with the rest of their class, but we made the formal presentation to Will and Race with their families present. In meant a lot for us to do that for them.”

The effort was definitely appreciated.

“It was a very nice gesture,” Johnston said. “It really shows they care and is just another example of how the staff at Tivy High School goes above and beyond for students.”

Johnston, who will be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall to study engineering, said he was “super thrilled” to see Balser and at Tivy contengent show their support for his efforts.

“It was really cool to see them try to give us some normalcy, all things considered,” Johnston said.

Risinger said the in-person visit meant a lot to him.

“It was just so great to see them,” Risinger said. “We have missed so much. At this time of the year, we would be spending so much time with our teachers and counselors and I miss that interaction, so seeing them this morning was awesome.”

Both boys had high praise for Balser and the Tivy staff, saying their love for students is evident.

“Even with all of this happening, Ms. Balser has tried so hard to give us a special end to our senior year,” Risinger said.

Risinger will be attending the McCombs School of Business at U.T. Austin in the fall.

While other traditional senior activities and events have cancelled or changed completely, the Class of 2020 will get to enjoy the ultimate tradition with the approval of an in-person graduation ceremony, which will be held May 29 at Antler Stadium.

“We will only get to have five family members present, but they will be livestreaming graduation,” Risinger said. “That means our graduation ceremony can be shared with friends and family in other states, so that’s really amazing.”

The Tivy Magna Cum Laude graduates (Top 10 percent) have recorded grade point averages ranging from 99.5 to 107.971.

Johnston, who claims the top academic spot, said he worked hard and was pretty confindent he would earn the valedictorian spot.

“I worked really hard and felt pretty good about it,” Johnston said.

Risinger said he didn’t want to take any chances.

“Our class is very competitive,” Risinger said. “I’m a pretty driven person and even with virtual classes, I just was in a constant grind to finish at the top.”

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