DVHS homecoming and prom king plans to study the arts after graduation
Del Valle High School senior Dontae Mitchell transferred to DVHS during his junior year from Georgia and says his teachers' impact on him during his last two years of high school set him up for success as he reaches for the stars after graduation.
Dontae has had a passion for singing, acting, and dancing since he was a child and said that from the start of his time at DVHS, his choir, theater, and dance teachers have pushed and motivated him, molding him into a well-rounded performer.
“I remember coming into the class I didn't even dance, and they asked if I wanted to join a more advanced dance class, and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I didn't know what I was getting myself into; it was pretty crazy,” he said.
“But they really helped a lot. At first, I thought they were just being hard on me because I was the only guy in the class or the only guy that loved to dance real. But it was because they wanted to make me better. That's what bettered me, being around them and telling me what I can fix, giving me that one-on-one training and helping me.”
Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the performing arts beyond high school, Dontae dove into his studies and extracurricular activities to make that happen.
“I knew I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be a dancer, but I never took the steps of becoming one. But when I came to Texas, they had all the programs, so I started to get into them, and I started practicing and doing what I always wanted to do,” he said.
DVHS choir teacher Ali Wagner-Garza said Dontae was motivated when he first arrived in Del Valle during his junior year.
“So we met Dontae last school year around the end of September, early October, coming from Georgia. And right away, he was like, ‘How can I be a part of this?’ Region? I'm going to try out. Yeah, I would love to do that. I've never been in dance, but I'll go do a flip for fun,’” Ali said. “So he was always, right out the gate, just super eager and willing to participate and always has the best attitude.”
Ali added that her student has always been mindful of what he wishes to accomplish and took the opportunities presented seriously.
“Instead of him just going to school and doing these electives for fun, it's like, ‘No, this is the thing that I am meant to do on this planet,’” she said of Dontae’s motivation.” It's been really fun to watch him become an actual artist and be really conscious about the choices he's making on stage, whether it's dancing or singing, or acting.”
Dontae has stood out in his classes and activities, but also outside of them, as he was crowned both Homecoming and Prom King this year. Now that he’s a proud DV graduate, he’ll attend Northern Michigan University to study acting and musical theater while also getting a minor in business. He has secured $30,000 in annual scholarships for most of his college education.
“I think it's cool to step outside of my bubble and learn from people in a different environment,” he said. “I see myself like on stage, but there is not just one stage. I really want to do film and like acting on TV. I want to do a couple of shows on Broadway. I want to perform in general, whether that's me as a musician, artist, or as an actor, a dancer.”
“It's one of the biggest points of pride I feel, meeting students and seeing them graduate and knowing that they're going to do something that came from this room. It's really an honor to know he's going to continue on and become a performer. I know he's going to be great. I’m so excited,” Ali said. “I told him that whatever production he’s in, I'm going to fly up and see him, and I will.”