Going to an NHL playoff game can be exciting enough. There’s the roar of the crowd, the excitement of knowing that every turn of the skate can mean a shift of power or an extra point on the scoreboard.

So imaging looking up at that scoreboard, or more appropriately the Jumbotron beneath it, and seeing your own face, amplified to 20+ feet tall on the screen.

For Peter Derman, a senior at Hillcrest High School, this was a reality.

Derman recently was chosen as one of 13 DISD students and former students to be profiled in 15-second video success stories. The profiles were grouped into sets of three and are broadcast at Stars and Mavericks playoff games.

And to celebrate his accomplishments, the district gave Derman’s family three tickets to attend a first-round Stars game.

“It was a lot of fun. It was really exciting,” says Derman, who took his parents to the game with him. “And that’s a pretty big screen to have your face up on. I was looking at it and told the lady next to me and behind me, “That’s me!” They were like, ‘OK…’”

Jon Dahlander, director of DISD television, says that when the committee sat down to select students, Derman was a natural choice.

“Peter was one who obviously rose very quickly to the top. He’s a National Merit finalist, a nationally ranked gymnast and captain of the wrestling team,” he says. “A lot of people aren’t aware we have students of Peter’s caliber attending our schools, when actually we do have many of his caliber.”

Derman’s list of accomplishments is extensive. He’s the class valedictorian and a recipient of the O’Donnell Foundation scholarship. He’ll attend Stanford University in the fall, where he’ll compete on the gymnastics team. He also works at the gym where he trains and tutors first-graders in reading and math a few hours a week.

Most recently, he helped his father, an international oil and gas lawyer, increase efficiency in that industry, and a co-authored article by father and son was published in at least three publications.

At Stanford, Derman will major in biomedical engineering, and hopes to research the technology of planting computer chips in paralyzed people to help them walk again.

Derman’s mom, Lynn, says her son is a “really good kid.”

“He’s very motivated, very disciplined and extremely well rounded,” she adds, “and there’s very little he puts his hand to that he doesn’t excel at.”

But as happy as she is to see her son’s accomplishments acknowledged, she’s also glad to see Dallas public schools getting some much-deserved recognition.

“I think there’s a wealth of opportunity there. I can’t tell you how many opportunities Peter has had through the district to do all kinds of wonderful things.

“But beyond those opportunities, what I really value about public schools is the diversity. Going to Hillcrest is like going to an international school. He’s exposed to kids of all nationalities and all religions and, with the world becoming increasingly globalized, he’s able to interact with all different kinds of kids, and that’s really essential.”

Her son agrees.

“I really feel that, in Dallas schools, there’s a lot to benefit from,” he says. “If you choose to, you can really get a thorough, good education that can pretty much prepare you for any college.”


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