Connor Whitmire at the Top Ten Breakfast Tuesday.

When Lake Highlands High School Valedictorian Connor Whitmire delivers his farewell address to classmates and their families on graduation day at Wildcat Stadium, he’ll be in his element. The starting varsity long snapper spent many an hour on that stadium turf.

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Football, like many of the school’s 13 other varsity sports, has become a year-round endeavor, with spring ball, gym time and summer workouts. Connor also found time to serve as a senior class officer, National Honor Society officer and lead defense attorney with the mock trial team. He worked as a production assistant for Champion Sports Radio and an intern for a law firm – all while taking advanced classes and earning a 105+ GPA.

Whitmire believes staying busy and connected outside of class actually boosted him to the top.

“Without my extracurricular activities, there’s no way I could have been valedictorian. Playing football gave me a physical and social outlet to help relieve the stress from taking multiple Advanced Placement (AP) classes. I highly encourage every incoming freshman to join either a sport or a fine art and then maybe join two or three smaller activities. Doing this helped me make a lot of friends in high school. I believe it’s the reason I’ve earned honors such as Senior Class Favorite and the Student Leadership nominee on the Homecoming Court.”

Whitmire’s crazy busy life took a toll some days, so he developed strategies to manage the multiple moving parts.

“I take things day by day. I don’t worry about things far in the future, but I also don’t procrastinate. Whenever I get assigned homework, I try to take care of it immediately and avoid letting time get away from me. There were many times I came home exhausted from football practice, but I still sat down right away and did my homework. I also took advantage of any free time I would get at school so I had less to do when I would get home. When times got really tough, I would think back to how my mother, Catrina Turner Whitmire, battled breast cancer. She passed away when I was in seventh grade. Not long after that, I decided to push myself and be more involved. I took AP courses. I went out for football. Later on, I ran for senior class officer. I also ran for National Honor Society officer. I did all of this to honor my mother’s memory and carry on her legacy. I would also like to thank my father and grandmother who supported me and provided me with inspiration.”

Whitmire didn’t set out to become valedictorian — in fact, he didn’t believe it was a real possibility until late in his high school career.

“I was never selected to be in Gifted and Talented (GT) classes, and I always thought of valedictorians as being super brains,” he says. “Imagine my shock when the summer before senior year I found out I was ranked second in the class. With one semester to go before grades locked, I decided to go all in and make the most of every class I took. No matter if I earned the number one spot or was still second in the class, I would be satisfied because I gave it all I had. That just made it a bit sweeter when I found out that I would be the valedictorian.”

Whitmire’s class has been saddled with challenges. They entered ninth grade when pandemic protocols were forcing students to wear masks to school and separate from each other using acrylic shields. They were repeatedly sent home to quarantine after classmates tested positive for COVID-19.

“I believe that there’s something special in the class of ’24. The pandemic was something that impacted us all in different ways, but I think it also made us stronger. The pandemic restrictions may have delayed our class from bonding, but I believe that we have made up for lost time and become closer as a class. After the pandemic, I feel that we are prepared for any challenge thrown our way.”

Whitmire is headed to the University of Texas, where he’ll participate in the prestigious Plan II Honors Program. He hopes to study law and eventually sit on the Supreme Court. He’s already recorded his valedictory address, and his theme is overcoming obstacles.

“Although I don’t explicitly mention it in the speech, I took inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s address at Rice University,” he says. “He discussed doing things like going to the moon and playing Texas in football. He said we do these things because they are hard and not easy.”

Whitmire’s late mother graduated from LHHS, as did his father, Keith, who stays active in Lake Highlands sports and alum circles. When he graduates, he’s determined to return to the neighborhood and raise his own family.

“No matter what, I will always say Lake Highlands is my home. As a second-generation Wildcat, my favorite thing about Lake Highlands is our traditions. Nowhere else will you find traditions so unique and strong as the ones in Lake Highlands.”

LHHS graduation will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 25. A limited number of tickets has been distributed to graduating students, and the ceremony will be livestreamed at A recording of the event will be available on the RISD YouTube channel.

At the 2014 Cotton Bowl Raffle emceed by Brad Sham, Connor Whitmire won a football.

Connor reunited with Brad Sham at the 2024 Scovell’s Scholars banquet when he received a scholarship.