SPARKS — Lesly Martir always loaded her schedule at Sparks High School to keep herself busy — sometimes too busy for her own good. A mixture of Advanced Placement classes, student clubs and athletics became a challenge for Martir, who will cross the stage today to receive her diploma at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
“At one point, I was involved in so many clubs and after-school activities, I became swamped,” Martir said. “By the end of the day I was usually too exhausted to utter a coherent sentence.”
Martir mastered the art of scheduling in her final year, giving her enough time to balance all her commitments and leave some time for herself as well. According to her counselor, Rebecca Morrison, Martir participates in school activities MESA (Math, Engineering Science, Arts), the drama club and the recycling club. Lesley’s teachers speak of her ability to grasp concepts with ease and her depth of understanding in all content areas, Morrison said.
She has excelled in her violin playing, which she began at age 7, and played in the orchestra each year. She also played tennis during her tenure, qualifying for the regional tournament each year she played.
“All of these qualities make Lesly exceptional but what truly sets her apart is the strength of her character,” Morrison said. “When things have been difficult she just keeps on going, taking each day as it comes, handling things with her quiet strength.”
Martir’s character was put to the test when her father died suddenly in August 2011. Martir’s mother moved back to Los Angeles about seven years ago and although she and her mother were in frequent contact, it was Martir’s father who was there day in and day out. It was her father who picked her up from late-night theater and orchestra performances, it was he who attended tennis matches and who pushed her on a daily basis to be the best student she could be. Now he was gone.
Martir debated about whether to return to Los Angeles to live with her mother, but in the end she decided to remain here with her sister to continue her senior year at Sparks High, and she has done very well. She maintained her grades (3.85 last semester), she played for the tennis team and she played in the orchestra. All of the areas her father encouraged her to explore have helped her through this most difficult of times — even if it means walking to school at 6:15 a.m. to get to zero period orchestra at 7 a.m. She says the walk wakes her up and helps her start her day off well. She loves to play and refuses to give it up. Lesly understands that everything has a price.
When things have been hard, she just keeps on going, taking each day as it comes, handling things with her quiet strength.
Martir said the most enjoyable part of her high school experience was the atmosphere Sparks High provided.
“The school and the people just accept who a person is and what they bring. I have never once felt out of place,” she said. “Sparks High School is so accepting; no matter the gender, if a person is black, white, brown, or if someone dates someone of the same gender.”
Martir plans to attend the University of Nevada, Reno or the University of California at Riverside to continue her education. She plans to earn a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and hopefully move on to graduate school for her master’s degree as well.
Her parting advice to other high school students: “Make sure that you don’t swamp yourself with too many school activities. Yes, it is nice to participate, but it’s also good to have time for yourself.”