HHS Valedictorian Aaron Zhang

When Aaron Zhang got the call that he was named Hahnville High School’s valedictorian, he felt both relief and excitement.

“My high school accomplishments now had a cherry on top,” Zhang said.

Being valedictorian was a dream for Zhang ever since he was in middle school and was a goal that he planned strategically for. He finished with a final GPA of 4.5294.

“Achieving valedictorian is no walk in the park. You will have classmates who are equally as driven, but that drives friendly competition,” he said. “Choosing which classes I had to take, struggling through those classes, and making relationships along the way through those struggles. While I place a high value on education, I was not going to allow it to consume my life in its entirety, and found time for many other extracurriculars and organizations, so I didn’t have any study schedule aside for the occasional exam cramming.”

Zhang took eLearning his first year of high school, but when he began to take in-person classes the next year he tried as many things as he possibly could. One of those choices was taking AFJROTC over PE going into his sophomore year, and he said it was the best strategic decision he’s ever made.

Throughout the years, he achieved the rank of both cadet lieutenant colonel and deputy corps commander.

“Not only did AFJROTC LA-933 improve my public speaking and leadership skills, I made lifelong friendships, and it opened doors to more sub-clubs,” he said. “I was the commander for CyberPatriots, StellarXplorers, JLAB Academic Bowl, and Flight Simulator & Drone Club, and took part in JROTC Chess, Awareness Presentation Team and JROTC Colorguard Team.”

Outside of AFJROTC, Zhang also served as senior secretary in the student council, captain of Computer Aided Design and co-captain of the Hahnville FRC 2183 Robotics team.

“I also started both the HHS Anime Club and the HHS Minecraft Club, and I am currently in the process of starting another organization that will be in effect next year that will help students make their own clubs, named Seminar System Inter-Club Council,” Zhang said.

Despite taking part in so many organizations, JROTC will always be close to Zhang’s heart.

“My favorite organization was JROTC because of the camaraderie I built with the other cadets, the vast amount of clubs it had catering to my interest, and the opportunities it has provided me. For example, I had a deep interest in computers and space, so the cybersecurity and space design competitions really let me flourish,” he said. “Even the Flight Simulator Club caught my interest, and I taught cadets how to  build a complete custom computer from individual parts, which became our new simulator.

“I also received a scholarship from AFJROTC to attend flight school over the summer of 2024, and obtain my private pilot’s license.”

Zhang called his biggest accomplishments in high school achieving both Student of the Year and valedictorian, while also having straight As throughout high school and receiving a 33 superscore on his ACT.

One of his favorite memories came from his robotics team obtaining a finalist position at the Bayou Regional Competition for the first time in the team’s history.

“I will miss the people I have met and grew up with at Hahnville, as well as the teachers and faculty. But I will most miss the memories I have made with my best friends in JROTC, struggling and laughing our way through challenges,” Zhang said.

After graduation, Zhang will be sent by the U.S. Air Force to Iowa Lakes Community College to get his private pilot’s license. He will then head to Georgia Institute of Technology to major in aerospace engineering with a minor in artificial intelligence.