The faculty of Stephenville High School announced this week the top graduates of the Class of 2008, including this year’s number two-ranked student and salutatorian.

Brandon Ratliff, who has accumulated a 5.108 grade point average (GPA) through four years of coursework, has attended Stephenville ISD every year since Kindergarten.

This year’s salutatorian has compiled a long list of awards and honors for both his academic and extracurricular achievements.

During his four years at SHS, Ratliff has enrolled in many Pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement courses, spanning all departments including science, mathematics, social studies and English.

He has been a member of HOSA, the Science Club, National Honor Society and DECA.

Ratliff also participated on the SHS University Interscholastic League (UIL) academic teams, advancing several years on the Current Events, Social Studies, Science and Editorial Writing teams.

Among his many academic awards are: National English and Science Merit Awards, being named to the National Honor Roll, Who’s Who Among American High School Students, and Outstanding AP World and U.S. History and Economics Student of the Year. Ratliff was also declared an SHS Parent-Teacher Organization Merit Award winner, AP Scholar and Stephenville Rotary Club Student of the Month.

His biggest achievement came earlier this year when he was notified that he was named a National Merit Scholar. A total of six SHS students were named among the nation’s 16,000 semi-finalists, but Ratliff made it through the strenuous review process and moved closer and closer to receiving a Merit Scholarship award.

The National Merit Scholarship Program accepts students into the competition based on their Preliminary SAT - National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Of the initial entrants, some 50,000 students with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

In the community, Ratliff finds time to volunteer at the Stephenville Public Library and the Harvey Baptist Church Youth Group. Last summer, he served at Mission Arlington as part of the Metroplex poverty ministry.

When asked about who has been an influence in his education at SHS, Ratliff said two teachers come to mind, including Lise Schwartzkopf and Kathleen Huckabee. “They’ve been my teachers and have been really supportive of me in class and outside of school. They’re not just teachers but friends.”

Ratliff also credits his parents for their unending encouragement to become a successful student. “My parents have been very supportive of me. They expect me to do my best and my best is all they want. There was never any pressure; only to achieve to a point of what they thought I deserved.”

His advice to incoming freshmen at SHS is to “work hard but remember a grade is just a grade.”

Ratliff says, “Don’t stress out because most of the stuff (you learn) you won’t remember in a month. Work hard but play hard, and start your freshman year, especially if you want to be in the top ten percent.”

Following his graduation from SHS next Friday, Ratliff plans to attend Baylor University in Waco. He plans to major in Spanish and eventually enter into the ministry.

Brandon is the son of Earl and Teresa Ratliff, of Stephenville.