With extreme care, Ezequiel Calderon, Jr. crafted an orange colored fish made out of paper, tied to a fishing pole made out of a paper towel tube. It was a creation that brought a smile to the face of his pre-kindergarten teacher.
That was 12 years ago in Josie Eulitt's class at Sparks Elementary School. However, it was more than a lesson about the ocean to Calderon, a May graduate of Sam Rayburn High School - he saw an even deeper meaning to the message.
"As funny as it founds, that particular lesson helped shape my educational career," he said. "It showed me that learning is a lot like fishing. You have to keep trying and never give up if you expect to reel in success. I took that to heart and it has always stayed with me."
Calderon certainly has made the most of his learning opportunities, as he is ranked fourth in his senior class at Sam Rayburn. He is a member of the National Honor Society and is a talented violinist - being a part of the varsity orchestra since he was a freshman and earning regional and all-state honors. Calderon also is talented vocally, being named the to the Texas Music Educators Association's Men's Choir in 2009-2010.
In a recent visit, Calderon thought he would surprise his favorite teacher with violin in hand and playing her a song - then showing her the paper fish and pole that he had created years ago.
"I knew Ezequiel was going to be someone special," Eulitt said. "He has such a sweet spirit and has always been every inquisitive. It gives me a great feeling in my heart to know that he has done such great things - and that he still has a bright future ahead of him."
Eulitt couldn't be more correct. Calderon is headed to the University of Texas at Austin in the fall, where he will major in international business.
"The world is becoming a global marketplace and I feel this field of study suits me well," he said. "I am bilingual, and I am always willing to learn new things, and I know those are two of the main attributes to becoming successful in the international world of business."
Calderon also believes that being successful lies in the knowing the value of giving back to others. He has served on the Superintendent's Student Advisory Committee, volunteered at Methodist Hospital and has given a helping hand to numerous other community causes.
"There is no greater feeling than knowing you have helped someone in need," he said.
The distinguished scholar admits that it is Eulitt's caring and compassion shaped his life.
"I remember her tender voice and sense of care for all of her students," he said. "No other educator can compare to the remarkable influence Ms. Eulitt has had over me. I am thankful to have had such an extraordinary individual in my life."