KISD /TODD MARTIN - One of two Killeen High School senior AVID classes poses after the school’s 54 seniors in two classes combined for more than $1 million in scholarships. Across four high schools, AVID seniors in KISD have accumulated more than $2.4 million in scholarship totals this year and the number is rising.

By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

With the school year winding down, one group of Killeen High School students is counting up.

They reached 1 million April 22, made it to 1,057,643 by last week, edged upward to 1,062,543 by Monday and expected to get higher every day.

That's $1,062,543 in college scholarships earned for the 54 seniors in the KHS Advancement Via Individual Determination classes, better known as AVID.

It's the first time the school's AVID program hit $1 million in scholarships with one group of seniors and the total is growing daily.

AVID classes have always boasted large scholarship totals. At Harker Heights High School, the 40 AVID seniors accumulated $527,000. At Ellison, 39 seniors reported $460,000. At Shoemaker, 38 seniors netted $396,956.

That makes 171 Killeen ISD AVID seniors in four schools and $2,446,499 in scholarship money so far. Those totals will climb.

"One of the biggest obstacles for students getting to college is money," said Christina Harris, KHS AVID senior teacher. "We want to make sure all our kids have some scholarship money."

The students' scholarship achievements are illustrated graphically on the hallway wall in front of the AVID classroom.

Each senior is represented by a cutout of a facial profile wearing a graduation cap and decorated with college emblems and scholarship money totals.

Students look on the simple bulletin board with relieved smiles of pride.

Senior Randal Carr wasn't sure he would get any scholarship money as recent as a month ago, but he reported $1,500 last week and said he might receive more.

"Without AVID, I wouldn't be where I am," Carr said. "I have friends who didn't even know what a college resume was and that you need to have one."

Carr plans to attend the University of North Texas and to study graphic art. He will be a first-generation college student.

The AVID class requires students to perform at least 40 hours of community service a year and to fill out college admission and scholarship applications. They start writing college application essays as juniors.

Those hours of service and early applications pay dividends for many students.

KHS senior Madeline Martin reported a scholarship total of $57,717. She plans to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to study nursing.

She said her college applications received boosts from the community service she performed and the advanced classes she took based on the AVID recommendations.

"Those are the things colleges look for - it's something we can put on our resumes," Martin said.

Ricca J Joslin's scholarship total was $47,850. She's going to Texas A&M University to study biomedical science. She will also be a first-generation college student.

"AVID promotes being prepared," she said. "It encourages us to apply early and to get the essays written. (Harris) thinks we all deserve to go to college."

The most a KHS senior AVID class accumulated in scholarship money was just over $600,000 two years ago. That was with 38 students.

This year's class is larger and includes some major scholarship awards, including senior Jaquail Haskins' West Point football scholarship valued at $450,000.

Four of the students are benefiting from the G.I. Bill through their parents' military service.

The students also begin early with a mindset determined to succeed. Carr, Martin and Joslin all said they would have made it to college without AVID, but the program and its teachers helped pave the way.

"They have a mindset that everything leads to the end of high school," Harris said. "They do the service as freshmen and continue on to get to that goal."

Out of the 54 seniors in KHS AVID, 50 have their college acceptance in hand and 30 have scholarship assistance.

"It's exciting and when someone gets a scholarship it motivates the others," Harris said. "For many, it takes a load off."

Area starmakers honored

Killeen ISD recently honored its starmakers, or the top 10 members of each high school's senior class, and their favorite teachers.

The following student-teacher pairs were recognized at the May 16 banquet:

Ellison High School

Emily Buckley selected Jennifer Zehr.

Jenna Diederich selected Vivian Bark.

Alyssa Harrison selected Roger Allen.

Grace Jimeno selected Lt. Col. Joseph Merlo.

Larissa Reichert selected Donald Williams.

Tia Scott selected Valerie Repetski.

Tiernee Stamper selected Rhonda Reese.

Yeachan Suh selected Brenda Sanders.

Daniela Vazquez selected Donald Williams.

Vanisha Weatherspoon selected Valerie Repetski.

Killeen High School

Danielle Allyn selected Paul Finnen.

Erik Clary selected Sherry Shoemaker.

Summer Gunnels selected Suzanne Arnett.

Malcolm Harrison selected Jose Jimenez-Rivera.

Kaylee Jackson selected Michael Sibberson.

RiccaJ Joslin selected Christina Harris.

Lena Korz selected Verena Simpson.

Megan McVeigh selected Jennifer Smith.

Ye Jin Oh selected Ann Shrewsbury.

Erica Sorenson selected Paul Finnen.

Harker Heights High School

Ivan Cortes selected Ashley Ashcraft.

Taylor Denney selected Barton Jacques.

Emily Dunn selected Rebecca Tait.

Jennifer Gallup selected Kelly Elam.

Emily Harris selected Kay Johnson.

Maryam Khan selected Rebecca Tait.

Molly Knowles selected Cambley Baker.

Alyssa Price selected David Norris.

Cody Ruhl selected James Elam.

Kiefer Shenk selected Debby Haren.

Shoemaker High School

Aaron Beal selected Don Webster.

Andrew Berg selected Kelly Berg.

Christina Bosher selected Lonnie McKinney.

Dorothy Christopher selected Audrie Cruz-Sealey.

Natasha Cruz selected Racheal Broussard.

Matthew Forero selected Julia Mallett.

Estrella Juarez selected Shauna Showers.

Brittany Leimer selected Kelly Berg.

Chanel Milam selected Stacey Halim.

Fernando Varnador Jr. selected Robert Knepp.

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