DHS Salutatorian Sean Baltazar

Sean Baltazar

Before entering Destrehan High School, Sean Baltazar and his parents spoke about embracing everything about the school and taking advantage of the many opportunities that were offered at DHS.

The recent graduate did that and more, as he excelled in many different clubs and finished as his class’ salutatorian with a weighted GPA of 4.4638.

Baltazar said he was honored, happy and excited when he got the call from DHS Principal Jason Madere informing him that he had been named the salutatorian. He said his parents always encouraged him not to play a numbers game or miss out on an opportunity because it could hurt his GPA.

“So to have taken the classes and to represent our class as salutatorian feels amazing,” he said.

Baltazar called Destrehan’s honors program a rigorous one, and said COVID, Hurricane Ida and extracurricular activities made it even more so.

“A schedule with strong self-discipline coupled with a phenomenal support system was fundamental to navigating high school,” he said. “Some nights I had my homework planned down to the minute to get it done and done well.”

Baltazar was a four-year member of FIRST Team #3039 Wildcat Robotics, where he served as captain, lead design, lead engineer and fabricator. He was also the National English Honor Society’s secretary and a member of the National Honor Society.

In addition, he took part in talented theatre, which he called a fun outlet since he loves being on stage, and is a founding member of the Spanish Culture Club.

But Wildcat Robotics is his passion.

“There is nothing more thrilling than competing at regional events and at worlds,” he said. “Teams from around the globe compete and share knowledge. There is nothing like it. This past April we hosted a team from Quebec who was also part of the Bayou Regional. We shared our cultures and languages with one another. While we only spent a week together, we were fast friends and still talk often.”

Baltazar said robotics is his future and that he enjoys building a complex machine from nothing but an idea. Attending the FIRST Robotics World Championships in his junior year, where the team finished as semifinalists in their division, is a memory that will always stay with him.

“The excitement, the grandeur, the sheer scope of the event and our team camaraderie was off the charts,” he said. “So few people get to experience that, and we did it.”

He especially enjoyed getting to learn from robotics coach Brian Young. He first met Young when he attended a summer camp put on by the robotics team when he was in third grade.

“I remember telling my parents I would be captain of coach Young’s team one day. I can’t imagine these last four years without him,” he said. “He challenges us and is unrelenting in his quest to make his students be insightful, creative problem solvers. He’s a really cool guy.

“He’s also a magician, and I may have learned a trick or two.”

While in high school, Baltazar also embraced his AP English classes. In fact, he won first place in the state for non-fiction in the Young Authors Contest. He enjoyed his AP Psychology and Talented Theatre classes as well, calling them among his favorites.

“The human brain is also a complex machine, so I enjoyed studying why and how it works,” he said. “No matter what field anyone enters, effective communication is crucial to success, so I embraced English to hone my communication skills. We need math and science to function daily, but we also need the arts to thrive. I truly enjoy being on stage, and it was a great way to relieve the high-stakes pressure of the intense FIRST Robotics season.”

Next, Baltazar will head to Tuscaloosa to attend the University of Alabama, where he plans to earn degrees in both electrical and mechanical engineering with a minor in robotics.

While he’s excited for the next chapter, he will miss the people he met at Destrehan.

“Every person I have interacted with, be it a staff member, a classmate, a teacher, etc., has had a positive influence on my trajectory through high school,” he said. “I will miss not being near everyone from Destrehan, They have been absolutely wonderful and their absence will be felt.”