The top two ranked seniors of Killeen ISD’s Early College High School are following in siblings’ footsteps.
The valedictorian this year is Nina Stinehour. The salutatorian is Vincent Xiao.
Both are longtime KISD students who learned about the Early College High School during presentations at their middle schools and were aware of it through their high-achieving siblings.
Stinehour, whose sister was valedictorian two years ago, said she remembered Principal Kathleen Burke coming to speak at Patterson Middle School.
“I found out about getting a free associate degree and thought it would be worth it getting it all at once,” she said.
“I learned about it in elementary school,” said Xiao, who attended Saegert Elementary School and Manor Middle School. “I understood how much money we would save.” His brother was valedictorian of the school last year.
Both also confirmed that attending college and high school simultaneously is not easy. Early College High School is a partnership with Central Texas College. Students attend their freshman and sophomore years at a campus on Fort Hood and their junior and senior years on the CTC campus.
This year’s seniors earned CTC degrees at the college commencement ceremony May 12, 12 days before their high school graduation.
“Sometimes it can be pretty hard,” said Stinehour of the rigorous program. “It’s challenging. We have great teachers and a strong support network. That helped me through.”
“It was definitely challenging,” said Xiao. “I had to balance classes.”
He pointed out that COVID restrictions began after spring break of his class’s freshman year and that sophomore year was a hybrid year of online and in-person classes, bringing additional obstacles.
“There is a lot of support here,” he said. “It helps that we are focused on college. I think it worked out in the end.”
Both Stinehour and Xiao are headed to the University of Texas at Austin to study computer science.
Both are set to give a charge to their classmates during the graduation ceremony Wednesday, May 24 starting at 3 p.m. at the Bell County Expo Center.
“I want to thank my parents, counselors and teachers,” said Stinehour. “I want to wish everyone luck in their future and remind everyone that we. Had each other to rely on.”
“I’ll talk about how we all made sacrifices,” said Xiao, “and it was worth it in the end.”
KISD Communications will post a story daily featuring the valedictorian and salutatorian of our six high schools up to the start of graduation ceremonies next week.