Excited for a new adventure in learning and in life, 46 Killeen ISD students climbed the auditorium steps as seniors and exited the stage as high school graduates on Jan. 18.

School district leaders joined administrators from Ellison, Killeen, Harker Heights and Shoemaker high schools and the Pathways Academic Campus to celebrate with new graduates and their friends and families at the midyear graduation at Shoemaker High School auditorium.

“It’s very exciting. We’re finally here. It’s a little surreal,” said Meghan Spear moments before earning her diploma from Harker Heights High School.

Already working for the Youth Performance Company in Georgetown stage managing theater productions, Spear is headed to the University of Houston to study fine arts.

She said she started adjusting her academic schedule as a sophomore to graduate early, taking maximum electives to earn early graduation.

“Excited and nervous,” is how Ellison High School graduate-to-be Jazzmine James described her mood preparing for the start of the commencement ceremony.

She plans to join the U.S. Army. “I wanted to graduate early to start my future,” she said. “I’ll remember the fun we had at Ellison and learning new things.”

Killeen High School senior Karen Rodriguez said she was taking emergency medical technician classes at Central Texas College with plans to become a paramedic.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “I wanted to graduate early to have time to enjoy it.” She said she enjoyed getting to know classmates at Pathways Academic Campus. “It was fun.

I felt secure there.”

“You choose what to do with what you have attained,” said Shoemaker Principal Sandra Forsythe, welcoming the large audience of educators and family members.

“We celebrate your accomplishments.”

Pathways Principal Bobbie Reeders said it made her emotional considering the challenges many students face to reach high school graduation.

“Remember the Golden Rule,” she told students, urging them to treat others the way they want to be treated. “Pay it forward when you can, not just with money, but with your time and attention.”

The principal charged students to continue to learn and to remember that they can accomplish great things when they make positive choices.

“Everyone here loves you and wishes you well,” she said to the students, seated in three rows and wearing caps and gowns representing the four traditional high schools in KISD.

“You will go far in life and you will be our next leaders,” she said.

“I feel like it’s time,” said Alaina McMahon of Harker Heights High School. “I’ve been ready to get past high school. It’s exciting.” She said she finished six needed credits in two months and plans to go on to college.

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