Spanish River valedictorian will miss playing football

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Derick Zhang, 18

The accomplishment he’s most proud of at Spanish River High School is earning the title of valedictorian along with the rigors of playing varsity football for the Sharks.

Derick Zhang’s passion for the gridiron and helping children came together when he helped coach at Kids Fitness Festivals of the Palm Beaches.

“Growing up in a supportive environment with friends and family has made me want to give back,” said Zhang, of Boca Raton.

The 18-year-old earned a 5.38/6.00 GPA, and scored a 1510 on the SAT to place first out of 587 students at Spanish River. He also took 18 advanced placement courses, two AICE and four dual-enrollment courses.

“Trying to balance between school, leisure activities and sleep was not easy,” Zhang said. “One thing I would say to underclassmen is to take the first year seriously. Mistakes will be harder to fix later on.”

He’s undecided as to which college he will attend, but knows he wants to major in biology, complete medical school and help people in need.

That’s something Zhang has already done through his various volunteer efforts.

At the Children’s Science Explorium at Sugar Sand Park, he interacted with guests on the exhibition floor, helped to maintain the exhibits and assisted with various elements of program development.

He also assisted the science demonstrations for children at Sand Piper Elementary School Science Day.

At Spanish River, he painted murals in the hallways and repainted much of the school he calls his second home.

In keeping with his career goals, he worked at the emergency desk at Delray Medical Center.

His main hobby is practicing a variety of art styles.

As part of National Art Honor Society Club, he promoted art and creative thinking by participating at art events and contests, and volunteer activities in drawing and painting.

He also enjoys playing the violin. Zhang won second place awards for Florida Federation of Music Clubs State Completion: Violin Duet, Medium I, and Violin Solo, Medium II.

If he could pick one thing that led him to becoming valedictorian, Zhang said the biggest thing would be “learning to go with the flow.”

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