McAllen, Texas (KVEO)— To be top of your class is a dream many chase but few accomplish.

On Thursday morning school officials surprised students at home with their new valedictorian title.

Riya Manohar surprised by the gifts and recognition officials brought . (Sal Castro – KVEO Photojournalists)

Four McAllen ISD students were officially recognized as the valedictorians of their schools. All four McAllen ISD high schools, Achieve Early College High, McAllen High, McAllen Memorial High, and McAllen Rowe High, took part in the ceremony.

The superintendent of McAllen ISD went out to visit every student. Joining him were the school principals of each respective school.

McAllen Memorial High principal Pedro Alvarez Jr. does a Facebook live before meeting the valedictorian. (Sal Castro – KVEO Photojournalist)

With the final year being completely online learning, becoming valedictorian meant more for McAllen High student Anna Martinez.

Anna Martinez outside of her house in McAllen, Texas (Sal Castro -KVEO Photojournalist)

“You miss out on a lot, so at least getting this it means a lot,” said Martinez.

Even though Martinez was robbed of the opportunities many others had, she remains optimistic.

“[I want to] definitely hang out with my friends, make the best out of my last summer before I go to school,” said Martinez.

She plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin to study chemical engineering.

For McAllen Memorial High valedictorian Riya Manohar, she didn’t expect to be here.

Riya Manohar (Center) is greeted by McAllen Memorial principal Pedro Alvarez Jr. (Sal Castro – KVEO Photojournalist)

“I’m really surprised, Freshman year I didn’t think this could happen,” said Manohar.

Like Martinez, she is proud and grateful for this chance. And knows how much work it took.

Riya Manohar poses outside her mom’s business (Sal Castro -KVEO Photojournalist)

“This year I guess I’ve had to put in a different amount of work in a different way,” said Manohar.

Next for Manohar is to attend the University of Texas at Austin to study finance.

Also recognized were Anthony Velasquez of Achieve Early College High and Deyanira Rodriguez of McAllen Rowe High.

Becoming valedictorian is no easy task especially with a pandemic still going on. Going through difficulty and coming out on top, the future sure does look bright for these students.