Cleveland’s Valedictorians

Two of the 52 Valedictorians – Emily Welch and Santiago Ferbel Azcarate – reflect on four years of hard work and dedication

Class of 2023 Valedictorians







Achieving the title of valedictorian is an honor that reflects exceptional academic strength and personal dedication. At Cleveland High School, Santiago Ferbel-Azcarate and Emily Welch have emerged as two of the 52 valedictorians for their graduating class, exemplifying the values of hard work, resilience, and self-motivation. As they prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, Santiago and Emily share their reflections, lessons learned, and advice for their peers and future students.

For Santiago, the path forward leads to Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he will study International Relations and Organizations. The opportunity to delve into global affairs and foster international understanding resonates deeply with Santiago’s aspirations. When asked about the valedictorian title, he shares, “To me, being a valedictorian represents a positive attitude.” Santiago’s positive mindset and unwavering trust in himself have been crucial in his academic journey. At Cleveland, he learned the importance of self-belief and maintaining a positive outlook. As advice to his peers, Santiago encourages them to prioritize self-care by setting boundaries and leaving time for personal relaxation.


Emily’s post-graduation plans take her to Saint Louis University, where she will pursue a major in nursing with a minor in Spanish. As she reflects on the valedictorian title, Emily sees it as a testament to her hard work and accomplishments throughout high school. Supported by her friends and family, Emily emphasizes that her motivation has always come from within. She shares, “Receiving the title of valedictorian reminds me of all of the things I accomplished and achieved all on my own merits.” The most important lesson Emily learned at Cleveland was the power of self-motivation and pushing herself to reach her goals. Whether it was pursuing the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma or leading the Red Cross Club, Emily consistently pushed herself to excel. Her advice to incoming Cleveland students is to advocate for themselves, communicate with teachers and coaches, and fearlessly explore new opportunities that ignite their passions.

As Santiago and Emily prepare to bid farewell to Cleveland High School, their journey as valedictorians stands as a testament to their remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication. Santiago’s pursuit of a positive mindset, combined with Emily’s relentless self-motivation and pursuit of personal growth, serve as an inspiration to their peers and future students. Their advice to incoming Cleveland students shows the importance of self-belief, communication, and embracing new experiences. As Santiago and Emily embark on their paths, they carry with them the lessons learned and the success they found in Cleveland High School.

Adele Avenoso
Hazel Beard
Grace Breger
Isabella Brown
Josefina Cachuela
Felix Cohen
Madeline DeWeese
Gavin Downs
Ellie Einstein
Lillian Emrich
Sam Evans
Santiago Ferbel-Azcarate
Stella Greenvoss
Braden Hausafus
Maya Hausman
Dang Ho
Sophie Jacqmotte-Parks
Lila Jones
Thoreau Kohles
Eliana Leone
Nadia Leontescu
Mason Loveland
Paige Lowery
Simone Maher
Corinne Markus
Byronie McMahon
Jude McSwain
Madison Middleton
Estelle Morgan
Sadie Nichols
Sabina Oldham
Riley Patlak
Emily Powell
Echo Ramirez
Hazel Saydak
Jillian Scott-Lewis
Fiona Sherwood
August Shin
Aliyah Silverman
Katelyn Smith
Hayden Spurgeon
Benjamin Stevenson
Matt Stevenson
Lila Temple
Ellen Valliere
Max van Witzenburg
Lila Wagner
Emily Welch
Gabriella Wong
Julian Wright
Claire Yeates
Mandy Zhan