EHS Top Grads 2019

Ellison HS Top Graduates 2019
By: Todd Martin
After jockeying for position among the top three for four years, Chantelle Cancel and Laiba Khan, said it was a relief to settle in as Ellison High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively for the Class of 2019.
In the highly competitive top academic rankings where fractions of points matter, Cancel said she figured she had tumbled from the top following a single disappointing chemistry test, but she maintained her top ranking through four years of stellar performance.
“I had a little bit of a scare and thought I might drop, but I didn’t,” she said. “Of course, I’m excited and my parents are ecstatic.”
“There was some uncertainty,” said Khan, who tied with Cancel at No. 1 in the first class ranking report their freshman year, before wavering between the second and third positions. “It’s something we’ve been fighting for. I wanted to be first or second.”
The pair have known each other since attending Patterson Middle School together first as seventh-graders and while they acknowledge the competition among the top students, they said it is friendly and they all count on one another for support.
The top graduates have stayed extensively busy and both say their active schedules have motivated them to stay organized and to perform at their best.
Cancel played volleyball all four years, including three years on varsity. The past two years, she has attended the Texas Bioscience Institute at Temple College and is set to receive an associate’s degree through that program.
That’s not all. She is part of Ellison’s Leadership Academy and chaired the group’s annual leadership conference this year. She is president of the National Honor Society and was a student council officer her junior year.
She also has two jobs, coaching children’s volleyball and working at HEB. Incredibly, as a senior, she decided to join the varsity softball team, too.
When asked how in the world she does it all, she smiles as if she’s accustomed to the surprise. “It helps me,” she said. “All those activities force me to manage my time. Staying busy has helped me.”
Khan is similarly engaged. She also completed the TBI program and will earn an associate’s degree from Temple College. She also took part in Ellison’s Leadership Academy and played a large role in this year’s student leadership conference and she played tennis.
She agreed that the full load forced her to take steps to stay prepared. The diligent student said she developed a routine, giving herself Friday night off, knowing most of her weekends would be consumed with academic pursuits.
“I learned how I study,” Cancel said. “I got to where I felt guilty if I was on my phone because I knew I needed to study. It kept me going.”
“TBI helped tremendously,” Khan said as Cancel nodded agreement. The pair said the early college experience gave them a needed push and exposed them to a taste of what awaits them at the university level.

The daughter of Jose and Yuneisy Cancel is headed to the University of Texas to study biology in a premed program.
The daughter of Abdul and Perveen Khan is going to Texas A&M University to study biomedical science in a premed program.