Meet the Class of 2019 Valedictorian and Salutatorians


Congratulations to our Class of 2019 Valedictorian Mitchell Herbert and our Salutatorians Speero Tannous and Jerry Zhang. In the following interview, they pass on their knowledge and share what made them successful during their four years at Woodcreek.

What WHS activities have you been involved with over the past 4 years?

MITCHELL: I participated on the high school swim team during my freshman year and founded the Mechatronics Club. I also joined Philosophy Club, Turning Point USA, NHS, and CSF.

SPEERO: CSF, eSports club, Broadcast Team, Wrestling, Mechatronics

JERRY: CSF, NHS, and Cross Country

What community activities have you been involved with over the past 4 years (please list)?

MITCHELL: I have participated in NHS, CSF, Boy Scouts. I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and served as a Senior Patrol Leader for 6 months.

What awards or special recognition have you received over the past 4 years?

MITCHELL: I have earned multiple WHS Department Awards, including the Computer Science Department Award and the English Department Award. I have also earned the rank of Eagle Scout. I am a two-time Placer County STEM Expo Gold Medalist and have participated in the invitation-only California State Science Fair.

SPEERO: WHS Department Awards in Stats, Math, Biology

JERRY: WHS Department awards in Calculus, Physics, Statistics

What was your reaction when you learned that you’d been named Valedictorian/ Salutatorian?

MITCHELL: I had been expecting to be named Valedictorian, but I was relieved to hear that I had finally met my goal.

SPEERO:  Annoyed. I did not want to write a speech.

JERRY: I was not too surprised, but I was still very excited to be named Salutatorian.

What does being Valedictorian/ Salutatorian mean to you?

MITCHELL: Being Valedictorian is serving as an example of the best the school has to offer. While the role itself signifies nothing other than a high GPA, the duties associated with it are an honor.

JERRY: Salutatorian means to me exactly what the qualifications are: I’ve taken enough AP classes to raise my class rank.

How might your classmates describe you?

MITCHELL: My classmates might describe me as quiet, outgoing, and funny (once you get to know me).

SPEERO:  Annoying

JERRY: My classmates probably know me as being very quiet in class.

What do you consider your biggest achievement(s) and/or the legacy that you’ll leave behind?

MITCHELL: I believe that my legacy is my participation in a prank we pulled on Mr. Snider, in which we bought an avocado painting at the NHS talent show and hung it in his room while he was away. It still hangs there to this day.

SPEERO: Breaking $300 worth of lab equipment

JERRY: The biggest legacy I think we’ve left behind is the avocado-themed decoration in the back of Mr. Snider’s room.

What have you enjoyed most about attending high school at Woodcreek?

MITCHELL: I really enjoyed founding the Mechatronics Club with all of my friends. We have constructed a maze-solving robot, a ballista, and an electrolysis tank.


JERRY: I enjoyed meeting and becoming close friends with students at Woodcreek.

If you had these past 4 years to do over, what would you do differently?

MITCHELL: I would have taken AP European History. The knowledge it provides is much more in depth than World Studies and is very relevant in classes such as AP US History and AP Government.

SPEERO: I would have gone to Oakmont for the IB program.

JERRY: I might go to more school events, like dances.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Woodcreek?

MITCHELL: My favorite memory from my time at Woodcreek is the time that we hung the Avocado painting in Mr Snider’s room.

JERRY: I don’t know if I can pick a favorite memory, but I did enjoy laying on the grass with friends watching fireworks at Night on the Quad.

Next year what will you miss about Woodcreek?

MITCHELL: More than anything else, I will miss all of my friends. I will also miss screaming “Best Day Ever” with Mr Stowers every day.

JERRY: I will miss most all the great people I’ve met.

What are your future plans for college and/or career?

MITCHELL: I plan on attending the University of California, San Diego to study Computer Science in the Fall. From there, I hope to become the CEO of a technology company.

SPEERO: I am going to Berkeley to study nuclear engineering.  I want to work on recreating the sun on Earth.

JERRY: I’ll be heading to UCSD to study computer science and engineering. I’m not sure about my career yet.

What are you looking forward to in the future?  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

MITCHELL: I am most looking forward to founding a company during or after college. I believe it will be an outstanding learning experience and will help me explore my passion for science, technology, and business.

JERRY:  I’m looking forward to being able to pursue my interests. I see myself working at a technology job I love and spending time with my family.

Who or what has influenced/inspired you the most in your life?

MITCHELL: I would rather be my own person than follow another’s lead, so I rarely choose role models. I do believe that my parents have influenced my life significantly.

JERRY: Everyone in my life has influenced me to some degree. I see the best in each of my friends and family and try to incorporate them into my own life. Of course, my parents have been my ultimate role models.

What advice do you have for underclassmen?

MITCHELL: I suggest that underclassmen participate in extracurricular activities during their freshman year. My biggest regret from high school was founding the Mechatronics Club over the summer of my sophomore year, rather than doing so sooner. I met some of my best friends through this activity.

SPEERO:  Never turn down free food.

JERRY: My advice is to remember that high school is not as intimidating as you might think. Remember to enjoy these 4 years, as they really do fly past.

Where did you find inspiration for your graduation speech?  What do you hope your listeners will take away?

MITCHELL: I hope my listeners realize that it is possible for ordinary people to become extraordinary. Now that they have graduated from high school, the world is wide open for them.

JERRY: I found inspiration for my speech in a certain class project. I hope people will take away the message of my speech, which is to remember not to have a too narrow definition of success.