Dalton Public Schools News

Valedictorian and Salutatorian of DHS and MIHS
Valedictorian and Salutatorian of DHS and MIHS

Earning the positions of valedictorian and salutatorian takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time. We are featuring this year's valedictorian and salutatorian from both Dalton High School and Morris Innovative High School. Keep reading to find out more about these successful seniors.


Jill Patel holding diploma

Jill Patel, Dalton High School

When Jill Patel found out she was going to be the 2020 valedictorian of Dalton High School, she said it felt like all of her hard work finally paid off.

"Hard work pays off, especially in the long run," Patel said.

In high school, Patel was involved in the Future Business Leaders of America and DECA, and she was an AP Scholar. With all of these involvements and school work, she occasionally struggled with time-management.

"Time can slip away, especially when you're trying to do other things as well as school," Patel said. "But, it's important to work hard, pay attention and seek help if you need it. Don't forget to live and enjoy the time you have in high school as well."

After graduation, Patel will study industrial engineering at Georgia Tech.

Headshot of Juan Almaraz Covarrubias

Juan Almaraz Covarrubias, Morris Innovative High School

Juan Almaraz Covarrubias started at Morris Innovative High School in the tenth grade, but he never imagined he would one day become the valedictorian of his class.

"There is so much competition here," Covarrubias said.

He credits his achievements to the excellent teachers at MIHS. For him, the small school environment helps students form deeper connections with the students.

"The teachers here are so good," Covarrubias said. "I really like the way they teach. It's a small school, so teachers have more interaction with the students."

Covarrubias completed his course work at MIHS in December, so he has already started studying automotive engineering at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.


Headshot of Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller, Dalton High School

Hannah Miller said it was amazing to find out she was the salutatorian for Dalton High School's Class of 2020. Miller has known she wanted to be a pilot since she was three years old, and she said that ambition was the driving force behind her success in school.

"My aspirations to succeed in a professional career have motivated me to work my hardest in school," Miller said.

For younger students who want to follow in her footsteps, Miller said it is important to focus on the details.

"The details of my work are always what earned me a few extra points," Miller said. "Don't just do the work to earn an A, do the work to learn and an excellent grade will usually follow."

After graduating, Miller plans on attending the University of Georgia on an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship. There, she plans to continue to pursue her lifelong career dream of becoming a pilot.

"I plan to major in Atmospheric Sciences and minor in Aerospace Studies," Miller said. "I am incredibly excited to become heavily involved with UGA's aviation club and Air Force ROTC program."

Headshot of Hilario Pimentel

Hilario Pimentel, Morris Innovative High School

Hilario Pimentel moved to the United States from Mexico less than two years ago. In that time, he learned English, graduated high school and became the salutatorian of Morris Innovative High School.

"It was really hard to learn English," Pimentel said. "I had to work hard. I always tried my best."

He was always motivated to work hard in his classes, and his work ethic is what he credits with his success.

"I came to this country to have a better future," Pimentel said. "This is a great opportunity."

Pimentel is still deciding what to do after graduation. A program he intended on beginning in Atlanta was cancelled due to COVID-19, so he is still sorting out what will come next. However, he hopes to become a nurse one day.