Early College HS Senior Sunrise 2020

Early College seniors meet for a sunrise breakfast.
By: Todd Martin
Before dawn Tuesday beneath a thick canopy of cloud cover in intermittent rain, the Early College High School senior class of 2020 gathered to greet the day, to make a memory and to do it together.
Accustomed to stepping out on faith in the midst of uncertainty, the hearty students didn’t let a little weather dampen their determination.
The school, a partnership between Killeen ISD and Central Texas College, allows students to combine high school and college, accruing two years’ worth of college hours and earn an associate’s degree concurrently with a diploma.
Following last year’s first-ever ECHS senior class, but, appropriately, changing the location and other details, this year’s seniors embraced the senior sunrise breakfast.
Damion Levy, Jr., the class president, urged his classmates to set aside the past, not be consumed with the future and to make the most of their senior year.
“Mainly I want them to have a memorable experience with their classmates,” he said as light rain fell and students danced together.
“The senior year is really just beginning,” he said. “We have months before we graduate and we want it to be memorable.”
Ailyne Melena, class vice president, said the sunrise breakfast symbolized a new chapter in life, the start of the senior year and the coming transition to adulthood. “It’s a reminder that we are about to graduate.”
Students gathered in a grassy field between the two buildings that make up the Early College High School on the CTC campus for high school juniors and seniors. Freshmen and sophomores attend at a repurposed building on Fort Hood.
As the cloud-covered morning brightened, groups of students, some with umbrellas, began dancing in the rain.
Unity through uncertainty has marked the class, its leaders said. “We’ve experienced a lot of character growth from freshmen year to senior year,” Levy said. “We’ve learned to meet and to exceed expectations.”
The second senior class of KISD Early College High School includes 237 students. Last spring, Educate Texas named it a model College and Career Readiness School in Texas.
“I think what I will remember is the support we’ve received here,” said Melena. “Teachers ask us a lot if we need help. Students help each other, study together. We know each other. We are a big family.”
The class president and vice president said they have grown personally as a result of choosing to attend the untraditional, academically rigorous school.
“I never thought I would run for president of the class,” Levy said. “We take risks. I think our class has connection.”
“I think it was a great decision to come to this school,” said Melena. “It has helped me become a leader.”