Student Achievements: From Mock Court to Carnegie Hall

1. Art of the trial

Preston Hollow’s Abby Chapman ranks in the top 10 among outstanding high school mock trial attorneys at the state and national levels. Judges didn’t provide an order for the top 10.

The Booker T High School for the Performing and Visual Arts senior, along with Zoë Gameros, co-captained their campus team to a first-place finish in Dallas ISD, a repeat state championship, and fifth place at nationals. It helps when your team’s three witnesses are outstanding actors, and Dallas attorney Abby Mathews is your team advisor.

2. Oratory champ

Thomas Jefferson High School senior Jessica Ramirez won a $15,000 scholarship by coming in first place out of 17 women in the ninth annual Women LEAD speech competition.

Thomas Jefferson High School college advisor Milagros Garcia joined her for this photo.

In all, the Junior League of Dallas (JLD) and Presenting Sponsor, The Ryan Foundation, awarded $40,000 in collegiate scholarships to 10 college-bound women from Dallas ISD campuses, including Emmett J. Conrad and South Oak Cliff high schools.

For the oratory competition, students responded to a prompt about professional tennis player Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health and leave the French Open. The students discussed challenges and choices they had faced and how receiving a scholarship would help them achieve their dreams. 

 3. Research scholarship

St. Mark’s School of Texas senior Spencer Burke, a frequent subject of this column for his Boy Scouting accomplishments and ecological work on behalf of bees and quail, has won a $1,500 Student Research Foundation College Scholarship.

Burke, a fourth-place winner in the 2020-2021 Community Contribution College Scholarships, was selected from a pool of more than 4,000 applicants from across the country.

4. Carnegie Hall performer

Preston Hollow’s Olivia Marquez had to wait longer than expected, but the Episcopal School of Dallas finally got to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the High School Honors Performance Series.

The soprano was accepted to perform after a review by the Honors Selection Board in 2020, but the pandemic delayed that performance until this year. In New York, she joined student performers from 47 U.S. states, Australia, Bermuda, China, Guam, and South Korea at the world-famous venue.

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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