Student of the Year presented by HEB and The First National Bank of Central Texas

Since 2016, the Greater Hewitt Chamber has partnered with Midway ISD to choose one student at each campus to be recognized as the Student of the Year. The campus faculty has selected past winners for their kindness, leadership, compassion, academic achievements, community involvement and extracurricular activities. Congratulations to our Students of the Year! Be sure to scroll to the bottom to check out the video shot by Hip Pixel Media.


2024-2025 – Sponsorship Opportunities coming this Fall.


James Rylander, Woodway Elementary

James Rylander is the son of Jonathan and Kristyn Rylander of Woodway. In addition to Student of the Year, James has also received multiple Woodway Elementary Student of the Month Awards and Kindness Awards. James is actively involved in his school community as a member of the Purposeful Panthers group and Safety Patrol. He also competes on the UIL Number Sense team. Outside of school, James enjoys playing tennis, babysits, helps host many community and Baylor student gatherings, and is involved in First Woodway Baptist Church.

Cal Turner, Chapel Park Elementary

Cal Turner is the son of Dusty and Jill Turner of Woodway. Cal is a young achiever who excels both academically and in extracurricular activities. An active member of the GT Program and Math Club, he also showcases his analytical skills in UIL competitions for Number Sense and Maps, Charts, and Graphs. Beyond the classroom, Cal’s talents shine in diverse fields, from playing piano to excelling in baseball, basketball, track, and flag football. Recognized for his leadership and kindness, he is always ready to lend a hand where needed. Cal’s blend of intellect, athleticism, and a heart for helping others makes him a role model for his peers.

Jonathan Melichar, Midway High School

Jonathan Melichar is the son of Ken and the late Cameo Melichar of Hewitt. Jonathan is currently Valedictorian for the Midway High School graduating class of 2024. He is a National Merit Commended Student, AP Scholar with Distinction, and received a perfect Composite score of 36 on the ACT. He is an active member of the National Honors Society and the Midway Computer Science and Science UIL teams. As a junior, Jonathan advanced to the final round of the Science UIL competition at state. Jonathan is also a 2023 National Cyber Scholar with Honors. After graduating in May, he plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and major in Computer Engineering. .

Aliyah Ford, Midway Middle School

Aliyah Ford is the daughter of Ashley and Greg Garrett of Hewitt and Kent Ford of Gatesville. A seventh grader at Midway Middle School, Aliyah has always expressed a love for people regardless of age, race, or background. Aliyah loves people and life, and she is particularly sweet, loving, and a role model for her younger peers. Aliyah has a passion for art and also plays volleyball at Midway Middle School and club volleyball with Texas Legends. Aliyah is a part of the AVID program at Midway Middle School and in several core honors classes. Aliyah knows how to bring a smile to everyone’s face at home and at school.

Ayden Joaquin Tellez, Hewitt Elementary

Ayden Téllez is the son of Isidoro and Gabriela Téllez of Waco. Ayden is a dedicated student who consistently makes the A Honor Roll every six weeks and is a recipient of positive office referrals. He is a member of the Kindness and Compassion Club at Hewitt Elementary and competes on the school’s UIL Number Sense team. Ayden loves school and his favorite subject is science. He recently started playing football and soccer, and in his free time, he likes to read and draw for his friends and family.  

Serena Park, Castleman Creek Elementary

Serena is the second daughter of Hannah and Moisés Park. Serena has a special way of helping others see their worth and reach their potential. She always strives to do her best in all things and is eager to learn more about others and the world around her. Serena loves spending time with her family playing board games and hanging out with her three sisters. She has many interests including art, history, writing, and reading books and manga. Her favorite book is currently Michael Ende’s “The Neverending Story,” and her favorite manga is “Dragon Ball.” She also enjoys listening to many different kinds of music including classical, K-pop, Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash. Her favorite food is Jjangppong (Korean seafood noodles) and her favorite snack is Takis Fuego. In the future, Serena wants to write books, speak many languages, play cello, run a marathon before college, and invent things as an engineer.

Ashlynn Whitten, Spring Valley Elementary

Ashlynn Whitten is the daughter of Corey and Gretchen Whitten of Hewitt. Ashlynn is an excellent student who is consistently named to the A Honor Roll. She is involved in Academic UIL competitions, is a black belt on the recorder, and is a member of the Runner Club at Spring Valley, earning recognition as the Top Girl runner. Outside of school, Ashlynn enjoys playing soccer and volleyball as a member of local youth teams.

Harper Merritt, Speegleville Elementary

Harper Merritt is the daughter of Alex and Kevin Merritt of Speegleville. Harper is actively involved in several school activities, showcasing her leadership abilities through roles in the Library League and News Crew at Speegleville Elementary. She has also received the Principal’s Award at Speegleville and is a member of the UIL Oral Reading team.

Jim Nichols, South Bosque Elementary

Jim is the son of Dr. Curt Nichols of Waco and Jill Helfrich of Granbury. He has been awarded his Yellow belt from Vertical Journey Taekwondo and won the Principal’s Award at South Bosque five times. Jim is involved with the Gifted and Talented program (GT) at school and has enjoyed being Principal of the Day twice. Additionally, he has competed on two UIL teams: Number Sense and Maps, Charts, and Graphs. Outside of school, Jim has attended the Triple Cross Cowboy Church’s Preteen Summer Camp twice. He enjoys hitting balls at Top Golf, gaming with friends at Slow Rise, and going to the beach.

Caleb Hathway, River Valley Middle School

Caleb Hathway is the son of Jeremy and Laura Hathway of Woodway. Caleb is a member of the A Honor Roll, National Junior Honor Society, and the River Valley Middle School Robotics Club. He also plays the cello in the school’s chamber orchestra and has earned top scores at Junior Festival and district competitions. Caleb also plays on the tennis team and outside of school he is involved in Highland Student Ministry.

Sienna Gordon, Park Hill Elementary

Sienna Gordon is the daughter of Josh and Mariesa Gordon of Lorena. She is a fifth-grade dynamo! Sienna is brilliant and displays unwavering kindness and infectious enthusiasm. Her genuine compassion and empathy truly set her apart. Whether she’s helping a classmate with a difficult assignment or spreading joy with her contagious laughter, Sienna embodies a spirit of kindness and generosity every day. Her infectious energy and positive attitude light up any room. Sienna is a member of the Principal’s Cabinet at Park Hill Elementary and is also involved in dance and plays piano and cello. Sienna isn’t just a Student of the Year; she’s a shining example to her family and friends.