A new setting awaits Smither, Davila

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017
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CLASSICS – Decatur High School’s Wyatt Smither, right, and Karl Davila chose classic novels as their favorite books. The two friends finished with the same grade point average. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The race for the top spot in the graduating Class of 2017 at Decatur High School ended in a photo finish.

Wyatt Smither and Karl Davila finished with identical 4.730 grade point averages. Smither finished slightly ahead once the “unweighted GPA” was calculated.

You might think that such a close race would have created a rivalry between the two. It might have, but it would fit firmly in the “friendly” category rather than the “bitter” category.

The two have been classmates since first grade, and both have taken a very similar path to the top of their class.

Both have been in the marching band and jazz band. They both play saxophone. Both competed in mock trial and University Interscholastic League academic events.

They even took mostly the same classes, their favorites being math and science.

“Like two peas in a pod,” Smither said.

“We’re best friends,” Davila added.

So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they are both seeking degrees in similar fields: engineering. Smither plans on attending Texas A&M and majoring in nuclear engineering while Davila will attend the University of Texas, with plans to then transfer to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and major in electrical engineering.

“I want to form my own company and be an entrepreneur,” Davila said of his career plans.

“I want to do renewable energy research and eventually open an energy company,” Smither said.

They even cite the same teacher as the one who provided them with the most inspiration – the late Carrie Oberle. Both had Oberle as a math teacher their freshman year.

“We had her for the first class everyday during our first year of high school. It always brightened up our day,” Davila said.

The photo finish was a bit of a surprise to both of them.

Davila said he had been first in his class up until the past few months.

“I had this other rival, but he moved away my sophomore year, so I was celebrating, ‘Yea, there’s nobody here who can pass me.’ But at the final moment, he didn’t beat me, but we tied. He made the better grades. I started slacking off on my grades,” Davila said.

While Davila might have taken the top spot a bit for granted after his sophomore year, Smither said he took the opposite approach.

“My freshman year, I didn’t care. I was just happy to be there, and then I said, ‘Maybe I should really try in school,'” he said.

As they get ready to graduate, both offered some advice to younger students.

“Take advantage of every opportunity given to you,” Smither said.

“Don’t be afraid to fail,” Davila added.


Les Miserable, A Farewell to Arms

Wyatt Smither’s favorite book: “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway. Smither said he chose this book at random for an English class and didn’t expect it to become one of his favorites.

Set during World War I, the story follows American Frederic Henry, a lieutenant in the Italian Army’s ambulance corps, who falls in love with an English nurse, Catherine Barkley.

The tragic story does not have a happy ending (spoiler alert), but Smither said that is what he liked the most about the book.

“It ends with the love of his life gone and his child is gone, but he still lives on. It’s not the stereotypical happy ending, but I like the ending. Life goes on, even though bad things happen,” he said.

Karl Davila’s favorite book: “Les Miserable” by Victor Hugo

Davila first read this book at the encouragement of his dad and because he wanted to read it before the movie version hit the screens.

“I really enjoyed the musical (version),” he said. “I saw it in Dallas.

“I originally wanted to read it because the movie was coming out. It’s a classic that I think everyone should read, but it is a hard read. It is definitely one of my all-time favorites.”

He also enjoyed the unique way the story is told. Rather than a chronological telling of events, the book has different sections that explores each character in deep detail.

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