Joy Moton and Kierra Parker have only been friends for a year, but they already know they’ll miss each other.

Parker, who moved to Harker Heights High School from Killeen’s Shoemaker High School, is headed to Texas State University in the fall while Moton is heading to Baylor University.

“We had so many classes together, and I’ll miss Harker Heights High School as well,” said Moton outside St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church after the baccalaureate ceremony Sunday.

Morton said she is sure the two would remain friends while in college.

Ministers and families came out to the ceremony Sunday afternoon to show their support for graduating seniors, who slowly inched closer toward leaving the nest for good.

“Now you’re off, off free at last, away from home, away from anything that stops you from being your true self. And in a couple of months, you’re going to say, ‘I want to come back,’” said Father Richard O’Rourke at the ceremony, joking that the soon-to-be college students would return to hoard food and toilet paper in the next couple of months.

O’Rourke is the priest at the St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church and was one of the many area ministers who spoke at Sunday’s ceremony.

“My wish and prayer for you, is that you as people of light keep the light of God alive in you and you don’t let anyone or anyone ever extinguish it,” he said.

Pastor Philemon Brown of the Harker Heights Community Church offered his own piece of advice for keeping the faith.

“She said this book will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from this book, but now in 2014 it wouldn’t necessarily be the family Bible ... I would offer that it would be an app,” he said, reflecting on how a mother gave her son the family Bible before he went to college.

After the blessing ceremony, the soon-to-be 2014 Heights graduates converged at the Harker Heights Community Park for a graduation picnic hosted by the city.

Sheridan Reid, a senior, said she was ready to leave her hometown behind to pursue her dream of becoming an author.

“It’s just been a lot, and I’m just done,” she said, adding that she will attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the fall.

“I really didn’t like group projects ... and (I won’t miss) the differences between some classes that could be good classes and others that we obviously just took because we needed another one.”

The high school will hold it’s graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

School officials said those attending the ceremony should arrive by 6:15 p.m. for seating.

Contact Courtney Griffin at or 254-501-7559

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