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Hard Work Pays Off for Belton New Tech's Top Graduates

BELTON, TX – Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow senior Kylan Menapace didn’t set out to be valedictorian. But when he got the news on Wednesday that he’s the school’s top student, he was thrilled his hard work had paid off. 

“I’ve always wanted to make my work ethic one of the strongest attributes of my character,” said Menapace, the son of Kurt and Kelly Menapace. “This recognition is just an added benefit.”

He is joined at the top of the class of 126 students by salutatorian Nick Garcia.

“For the majority of my grade school career I always had the motivation to work hard and get good grades,” Garcia said. “Senior year has been a bit challenging. When they say senioritis is a thing – they’re not joking. It was a bit of a challenge to maneuver around that mindset.” 

Senioritis wasn’t the only obstacle Garcia had to overcome during his educational career, which included time at Pirtle Elementary and Lake Belton Middle School.

“In my early stages of life I was diagnosed on the austic spectrum,” Garcia said. “It made learning a bit difficult for me, but my parents saw potential in me and knew I could be great, that I have the brains to be something great in my future.”

Menapace, who attended North Belton Middle School after moving to Texas from Wyoming, cited strong family support as a contributing factor to his success.

“I’d like to thank all my teachers, the administrators and my peers for supporting me along the way and most importantly my family,” he said. “My parents knew I had something special.”

Earlier this year Menapace was named a College Board National Recognition Program Scholar for being among the top 2.5 percent of African American test takers of the Preliminary SAT (PSAT). 

At New Tech, he was a member of the Leadership Council, National Honor Society and Key Club and served as the head programmer for the Robotics Team. Menapace also volunteered as a porter of parking for his church’s worship services and food drives.

Garcia spent his free time taking photos for Tiger Media, a group of students who document campus activities. He also expressed thanks to his family, teachers and staff. 

“I feel blessed that I have had such great opportunities and such a great support system and community around me to get me to where I am today,” he said. “They have been sensational. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

After graduating on June 10, both students will enroll at the University of Texas, Menapace to study civil engineering and Garcia to pursue architectural engineering. 

Garcia’s passion for engineering was fueled by his uncle, who would take him to construction sites when he was young to teach him about things like foundations and plumbing. 

Menapace hopes to own his own engineering firm one day. 

“That’s one of my highest goals I have,” he said. “I would also like to write books, volunteer, travel outside the country and explore cultures.”

Principal Jennisty Thomason has no doubt both young men will achieve all their dreams.

“We are so proud of Kylan and Nick and the hard work that these academic designations represent,” she said. “I can’t wait to see where life takes them and all the wonderful things they will do that will benefit others.”

May 27, 2021