Starmakers Honors Top Seniors

HHHS senior Jeesoo Min at Starmakers Banquet
By: Todd Martin
This year’s brightest lights among the hundreds of high school seniors set to graduate next week lit up the ballroom stage Thursday as the Killeen ISD Education Foundation honored its 51 highest-ranking seniors.
The Starmakers Academic Recognition Banquet recognized the top-10 Class of 2019 graduates with their chosen favorite educator for Shoemaker, Ellison, Harker Heights, Killeen and Early College high schools. One, Shoemaker, had a tie, bringing the total to 51.
After each high school principal, along with a Foundation Gold sponsor donor presented awards to each student-teacher pair, Meredith Kliewer Spears presented the annual Kliewer Family Leadership Award, two $1,000 and one $10,000 scholarship.

The top award went to Jeesoo Min, the valedictorian of Harker Heights High School. She completed the Texas Bioscience Institute dual credit program, is one of the district’s two first-ever All-State Orchestra member and a leader in several school organizations.
“I got emotional when I saw my dad cry,” the grateful Min said shortly after receiving the top scholarship, which is spread over four years. “I felt like everything I’ve worked for paid off. The experiences have changed me as a person.”
The multi-talented student set to study electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas, explained that the hours of study and rehearsal, as well as community service and other activities has broadened her view and made her more compassionate.
While most of the highly-ranked students chose teachers from their more recent advanced high school courses, a few, like Baylee McGuire of Harker Heights High School, remembered the investment of an elementary teacher.
Soon to head to the University of Texas to study psychology, McGuire chose Lynn Diem, her second- and third-grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary School as the most influential.
“She started my love for education,” said McGuire. “She provided such a nurturing environment for us.” The senior recalled specifically a project about the U.S. presidents and Diem’s practice to read to her students daily.
“You always remember them,” said Diem, “but knowing they have you in their heart is so special. I’m so overwhelmed.”
Melissa Franks, AVID teacher at the Early College High School, received favorite teacher status from the school’s first salutatorian, Joshua Munroe. She has followed the first class from their freshman year to their senior year.
“I love our kids,” said Franks. “To be chosen as a favorite, it’s the happiest feeling. I’ve seen this first group of seniors since their first day.”
Closing out the banquet, KISD Superintendent John Craft praised the top students for their outstanding accomplishments and pointed out the enormous impact of great teachers.
He also thanked the community and the foundation’s donors, which accounted for $205,000 raised in this year’s campaign to continue classroom grants, teacher professional development grants and student scholarships.