A group of 200 Killeen ISD seniors who chose a more rigorous path than necessary earned their diplomas Wednesday during graduation ceremonies at the Bell County Expo Center.
Senior Class President Emily Piercey praised the close-knit Early College Lions’ comradery. Through highs and lows and even a pandemic, “this class has been a pack,” she said.
“Every single student here should be so incredibly proud of themselves to be walking this stage today,” she said. “It is your perseverance, dedication and hard work that got you to this point.”
Salutatorian Vincent Xiao thanked family, friends, faculty and other supporters for seeing students through a challenging four years.
Choosing Early College, Xiao said, showed a desire to go beyond the expected high school standard.
“Our commitment to Early College required us to weigh the costs of a nontraditional high school experience with the promise of a rigorous yet fulfilling education,” he said. “It is this forward thinking that best characterizes our graduating class.”
That forward thinking, he said, would serve graduates well in tackling future uncertainty.
Valedictorian Nina Stinehour recalled the last day of middle school when a college and career teacher urged students to cherish their high school years because “it will be over in the blink of an eye.”
“I didn’t believe her because four years is almost a quarter of our entire lifetimes,” said Stinehour, “but standing here as we say goodbye, I realize that she was correct.”
She thanked her parents and educators, singling out “Mr. K,” for diligently answering questions about schedule changes and recommendation letters.
The school’s top graduate ended her address with lyrics from the song “See You Again.”
“May the light guide your way, may every road you take always lead you home, and may we meet again in a better place."
In closing, Class Vice President Avani Rouse quoted Sponge Bob – “If you believe in yourself, with a tiny pinch of magic, all your dreams will true.”
She said the magic is determination and motivation. “We have come a long way and we still have the rest of the world to explore,” said Rouse. “This isn’t a goodbye but a see you again.”
Killeen ISD’s Early College High School is a partnership with Central Texas College that allows students to earn a high school diploma and two-year college degree simultaneously. The school celebrated its first graduating class in 2019.
Most of the seniors who earned high school diplomas Wednesday earned associate degrees from CTC two weeks ago.
The Early College High School graduation began three days of KISD high school graduations.
Chaparral High School celebrated its inaugural graduation Wednesday evening.
On Friday, Harker Heights High School graduates at 9 a.m. and Shoemaker High School follows at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Killeen High School graduates at 2 p.m., followed by Ellison High School at 7 p.m. All the ceremonies are set at the Expo Center and require a ticket to enter.
The graduation ceremonies will be streamed live on KISDTV Channel 17 and online www.killeenisd.org/livetv.
The last day of school for students in KISD is Thursday, May 25.