There’s a home video of Kyler Gleason as a child, still in diapers, playing chess with his older brother.
It’s a glimpse at how the 18-year-old high school senior’s mind works; how it’s always worked.
“At a young age, he was always thinking and problem-solving,” says his mother, Jeannie Liao-Gleason.
It makes sense then, when Gleason says his favorite class is Advanced Placement physics, because he’s fascinated with “learning how the world works and how things happen,” or that in his spare time (what little there is) he plays the piano. He took piano lessons until the sixth grade, when other activities took over. These days, he learns songs by ear.
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There is satisfaction in learning something new, he says.
“I learn well. I enjoy learning,” says Gleason, who has served as a Boys State representative and on his schools’ student body since he was in the fifth grade. He also won the Junior Achievement Business Innovation Competition, participated in Fresno State’s Summer Engineering Experience and has maintained a 4.2 GPA.
The learning isn’t consigned to just academics.
Gleason also competes as a three-sport varsity athlete (water polo, swimming and baseball). He was voted Most Athletic at Buchanan.
During one season Gleason participated in both spring sports, baseball and swimming. It left little spare time and tested the student’s work ethic. There were 5 a.m. workouts before school and baseball games after.
There were days he would come home completely drained.
He credits his parents for pushing him through those moments and the teachers at Buchanan helping him remain focused and motivated.
“There’s no lack of support there,” Gleason says.
And he gives that support back, serving as a tutor to others. Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young calls Gleason “one of the most compassionate, generous, well-rounded, polite, moral, ethical students around.”
School: Buchanan High School
Parents: Gary Gleason and Jeannie Liao-Gleason
12th-GRADE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Steve Silva, 18, Riverdale
School: Riverdale High School
Parents: Jose Silva and Maria Silva
Achievements: Silva has been on the honor roll list since his freshman year. He serves as the student body treasurer and is vice president of the Cancer Awareness Club. He has competed in Academic Decathlon and Science Olympiad. He was captain of the varsity football team and made all-league. He also ran varsity track and played junior varsity baseball. He sings in church and works with cancer and AIDS awareness events in the Valley. He is the translator at his local elementary school and assists with free football clinics for children.
Sydney Horanic, 18, Madera
School: Liberty High School
Parents: Ed and Barbara Ann Horanic
Achievements: Horanic holds a cumulative 4.37 GPA — a record at Liberty High. That includes A grades in nine AP classes — the most offered at Liberty. Horanic also has an impressive athletic résumé that includes two league track titles and a spot on four undefeated league championship soccer teams.
Brooke Poore, 18, Tollhouse
School: Sierra High School
Parents: Jonathan and Amy Poore
Achievements: Poore has maintained a 4.4 GPA while taking AP classes in literature, language and composition, calculus, American history and physics. As a varsity athlete, she played on championship teams in soccer, volleyball and track. As a volunteer, she led an after-school teen group at the Auberry Library, coached for the Special Olympics, sold Kids Day newspapers and rang a bell for the Salvation Army.