Killeen HS Celebrates Virtual Graduation 2020

KHS salutatorian Rachel Cannon with family
By: Todd Martin
Even with a senior year cut short, the Killeen High School Class of 2020 worked hard four years and earned a diploma that represents far more than academic achievement.
Class salutatorian Rachel Cannon said their diploma, while “just a piece of paper,” represented years of tests, countless essays, classroom learning and a trove of precious memories.
“We graduated and we survived a global pandemic,” she said in remarks recorded for the school’s virtual graduation ceremony launched Sunday. “All that embracing the grind and all gritting, no quitting paid off.”
Both Cannon and valedictorian Brandon Fox thanked family, friends, educators and other supporters in their recorded speeches to 449 KHS classmates.
Speaking to her peers, Cannon said it’s OK to not have the future figured out.
She spoke of her childhood years playing in a sandbox dreaming of becoming an archaeologist, then looking to the stars and considering astronomy, then video game design and more recently architecture.
“I have no idea if I’ll still feel that way in a couple of months,” the salutatorian said. “The future is unknown even if you do know what you want. Life is very good at hitting you in the face with a tennis ball,” the former high school tennis player observed. “In the end, it’s important that you never give up even when life gets tough.”
Four years ago, said Fox, the Class of 2020 took its first steps into high school with a variety of goals and expectations, including the common objective to graduate.
He referenced “the longest spring break in high school history” and said “with great challenge comes great opportunity for growth.”
“Each of us have faced a unique challenge the past four years. We have all overcome and completed our goal to graduate,” he said. “Don’t focus on the amount of times you’ve fallen, but the amount of times you get up,” he said.
Following a church service Sunday, the class salutatorian, with her mom and brother began preparing to celebrate with a photo booth inside their house for pictures. They planned to get in touch with several extended family members overseas to watch the broadcast together.
“I’m half excited it’s over, but still feel like I want to celebrate with friends,” said Cannon. “I miss seeing everyone in person and giving everyone a hug. I’m still happy seeing that everyone is celebrating with families.”
Principal Kara Trevino congratulated the new Killeen High School graduates on earning their diplomas despite the unprecedented extended school closure in the midst of global pandemic.
What remains constant, she said, is the value of relationships and the determination to push on. “We will forever be together as one family.”
“We have been taught to embrace the grind and persevere with the all grit, no-quit attitude,” she said, pointing out that life will bring waves of both celebration and adversity. “We care about you. We support you. We love you.”
Alexa Payne, a senior class representative, closed the ceremony prior to the school song that played against the backdrop of a senior class photo.
“Here we are,” said Payne. “I know this is not how we envisioned our graduation to be.”
Born in the era of 9/11 and graduating high school during the spread of coronavirus, she said makes the class truly historic.
“High school has been full of ups and downs. At times, it’s been hard to keep going. The past is exactly that – the past. I encourage you to be in the moment and to be excited for the future. Keep on pushing, keep on wishing and keep on dreaming...God be with you on life’s journey.”
The Killeen High School ceremony concluded a series of five virtual commencement ceremonies launched Friday through Sunday on KISD-TV Spectrum Channel 17, KWTX CW and the district’s website and social media platforms.