MCKINNEY (KRLD) – McKinney Boyd High School’s graduating class got a shock at their ceremony when valedictorian Larissa Martinez revealed that she and her family are undocumented Mexican immigrants.READ MORE: State Fair Taking Extra Measures To Keep Guests Safe
Larissa and her mom moved to McKinney in 2010. During her time at Boyd, Larissa held nearly a 5.0 GPA, was a distinguished scholar, and a member of clubs such as Key Club and National Honor Society.
Reaction to Martinez’s controversial comments quickly spread on social media. The debate has been spirited on the CBSDFW Facebook page with some on the social site expressing their frustration and others their support.
“I knew from about the third week of her freshman year that she was special,” says history teacher Scott Martin. “I noticed how high her GPA was even in that third week. And then I got to know her as a person.”
Since then, Martin and Larissa have shared a close bond. He taught her in three of her four years at Boyd.
Martin was also one of the few who knew all along about Larissa’s undocumented status.
“Kids just don’t tell you these things unless they know and trust and love you,” he says. “Her father wasn’t around, so I’d always tell her that if I had a daughter, I’d want one just like her.”
Martin always hoped that Larissa would share her undocumented status with her classmates at graduation. He had the chance to read her speech a few weeks beforehand.
“I’m not a crying person,” he says. “But I basically started crying and had to hide it because it was during class. So I just called her over and said ‘I had a speech in my head, and this is everything I was hoping you would say’.”READ MORE: Officials: Man Suspected Of Making Threats Against Texas Lawmakers Arrested
While Martin has nothing but praise for Larissa’s speech and admires the courage it took her to give, he understands that her undocumented status may cause different feelings in others.
“I understand, but the human side of it totally takes over for me. As a teacher you have to learn a lot, and you have to learn to be human and love the kids.”
Ten years ago, Larissa’s undocumented status would have made Martin feel differently too.
“I come from a small town Oklahoma, Republican background,” he says. “But being a teacher, I have to love and teach every kid without bringing politics into it. And when kids from these backgrounds outperform kids who come from so much, it blows my mind.”
Larissa now has a full ride to Yale. She hopes to become pre-med, and one day work as a neurosurgeon.
Martin knows they’ll stay in touch for the rest of time, and he’ll always be proud of her.
“Kids that come from backgrounds like her, especially low socioeconomic ones, to be valedictorian like she did? It’s like a book or a movie. You rarely expect it to ever happen.”
When asked how this revelation could affect Matrtinez’s status in the country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told KRLD that right now they don’t have enough information to comment on the situation. They expect to have an update next week.
McKinney Boyd HS History teacher Scott Martin spoke with 1080 KRLD about Larissa.MORE NEWS: State Fair Offers Hundreds Of Free Acts, Shows And Exhibits
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)