Top DHS Class of 2022 Students Make History

Top DHS Class of 2022 Students Make District History
Posted on 06/23/2022
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DESOTO - When the DeSoto High School Class of 2022 Valedictorian Valerie Villacorta and Salutatorian Ancela Soriano learned that they were the two highest-ranked students in their graduating class, they had no idea that they were also etching a place in the district’s history. This year marks the first time the top two seniors in DeSoto ISD, a 70% African-American student-populated district, were both of Hispanic origin.

This historical moment personifies the mission of the district to ensure that all students, without exception, learn and grow at their highest levels. DeSoto High School Senior Principal Dr. James McBride said, “I think this is awesome and it shows how we as a community need to respond to our growing diversity.” 

Both Villacorta and Soriano noted this as a personal achievement and a notable milestone for their respective families. During the May 23, 2022, DHS Commencement at Globe Life Field in Arlington, the two history-makers spoke in both their native language, Spanish, and English as they addressed the audience and those who sacrificed for them.

“This is the first time that the top two graduates were both Hispanic women. Our culture and background played a big part in our lives,” said Villacorta whose parents are immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador and have excelled amid obstacles. “Without them, we would not be here.”

Like DHS Valedictorian Villacorta, Salutatorian Soriano also began the road to becoming a top graduate as a freshman. 

“I am the daughter of a first-generation graduate, a woman who sought out not only a high school diploma but a college degree while working and raising four children. I am the daughter of an immigrant father, a Mexican-born son who left all that he knew so that I could have a better life,” Soriano said. “This achievement is not mine only to parade, it is for my mom and dad too.”  Soriano shared several examples of their endurance and sacrifice to ensure a better life for her and her siblings, placing the needs of their children before their own dreams. 

Earlier in the spring semester, the announcement of both Villacorta and Soriano as the top two students brought little surprise to DHS Senior Class Principal Dr. James McBride. 

“For four years and even with the issues related to the pandemic, these young ladies continued to stay focused on their academics whether they were studying virtually or in the brick and mortar building,” said McBride. “This shows other students that no matter your circumstances you should continue to move forward and move forward with excellence.”

McBride explained that this type of commitment is shaped from the outside but sustained from an internal understanding.

“I noticed a long time ago that these young ladies were scholars even as freshmen and sophomores and on track to be in the top ten in their classes at that time. Looking at their transcripts, I saw the excellence in them before they came to the campus and I knew they had a support system,” Dr. McBride continued.  “The difference is that they are scholars who continue to strive for excellence here at the high school.”


Ms. Sonia Soriano, who joined her daughter Ancela, for the celebration announcement was instantly in tears as she hugged her daughter multiple times extensively after learning of her selection as the class salutatorian. 

“I feel proud, she worked really hard. I see her every day doing her homework or studying for a test. She is so committed to her school,” said Ms. Soriano. “She is going to be the second one to graduate from high school in our family. I was the first one. I want her to complete her university studies. She is my baby girl and I am truly proud of her.”

After the March surprise presentations, DeSoto ISD Board President DeAndrea Fleming marked the momentous occasion as the reason for their work as trustees.


“These students are the example of what we want every student to be here in DeSoto ISD,” she said. “We know that we were moving through a pandemic the past two years and these students still strived to excel.”

As the district’s top student, Villacorta was noted as an unconventional, innovative, independent, and critical thinker. Villacorta plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin and become a lawyer. She participated in several honors programs during high school which include:

  • Pre-AP Scholar
  • AP Scholar 
  • Dual Credit Scholar
  • Associate of Arts Degree
  • The National Honor Society
  • The Spanish Honor Society
  • Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society
  • The Collegiate Magnet Program

In addition to being the class salutatorian, Soriano also had the following accolades:

  • Pre-AP Scholar
  • AP Scholar
  • Dual Credit Scholar 
  • Associate of Arts Degree
  • National Honor Society
  • The Collegiate Magnet Program 
  • Math Honor Society
  • Spanish Honor Society

Soriano plans to participate in the Dallas County College Program and begin her post-secondary education at Mountain View College to ultimately become a psychiatrist.

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