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Hebbronville student receives national recognition for academic achievements

Luke Haner was recognized by The College Board for the National Hispanic Recognition and the National Rural and Small Town Recognition programs
Luke Haner.jpg
Posted at 3:14 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 18:22:24-05

HEBBRONVILLE, Texas — Luke Haner is currently ranked second in his class at Hebbronville High School.

Recently, the senior was recognized by the College Board with its National Recognition Program.

Haner scored in the top 10% of students in Texas on the PSAT, scored a 3 on his AP Biology test, a 4 on his AP English Literature test and was awarded the National Hispanic Recognition and the National Rural and Small Town Recognition programs.

“I couldn’t believe I even received it in the first place,” Haner said.

This recognition did not come without hard work by Haner. He said his success comes from a combination of natural intelligence, hard work and a good support system.

“I have my math teacher to thank for that, and my various English teachers. I would say you have to have a strong foundation, and build upon it yourself over time,” he said.

Haner juggled high school classes and extra curricular activities with taking classes at Coastal Bend College - where he graduated with an Associate’s Degree this past December - becoming the first person to ever graduate with an Associate’s Degree prior to graduating from Hebbronville High School.

“It was difficult. I would find myself at my old part-time job, on my break writing essays,” he said. “It was just crazy all the time. Pair that with AP Calculus homework everyday, it was definitely a challenge. But, you just have to overcome that. I would even triple up on some courses in the spring semester to try to meet the Associate’s deadline I gave to myself.”

Knowing what he went through to maintain high grades, while taking college classes and everything else, impressed his counselor, Lynda Almaraz.

“Knowing that he was maintaining that GPA makes you super proud of the student he had become, he did great,” she said.

Haner took advantage of a program the Jim Hogg County Independent School District offers, which pays for up to 18 credit hours for students over their high school careers.

But, he also took more classes to get an Associate’s Degree.

“He had a goal that he wanted to graduate with an Associate’s Degree, so he went beyond what our program is, with 18 hours that our district pays for, for our kids," Almaraz said. "He took courses in the summer and wintermesters and Maymesters, so he could reach his goal to become an Associate’s graduate from Coastal Bend College."

Almaraz said 50 percent of the students who graduate from HHS go to college. She said that many take an alternate career path, learning a trade or entering the military, but around 39 percent of the students are currently working on college credits or certifications for trades through the district program.

“A lot of kids have become successful with (trades), they’ve gone into the cities, and they’re working for the companies in the welding trade, or working for hospitals and nursing homes, using their CNA certification,” she said.

Haner will be a part of the 50 percent headed to college. He will be attending Texas A&M University-College Station in the fall, where he plans to study political science, and then attend law school.

“I think Luke is a very self-driven, very disciplined student,” Almaraz said. “I know he is going to accomplish whatever he plans to accomplish, because of what he’s done in the classroom, and how extremely competitive he is.”

Haner said the biggest obstacle in his high school career was the pandemic. He said virtual learning was difficult, but overcoming the difficulties is rewarding.

“What I would say is the biggest difference is you had to learn to be your own motivator,” he said. “There was no one pushing you anymore. You had to learn how to be independent. It was challenging at the time, but it really helps with achievements such as this.”