BELTON — Proud parents, family members and friends gathered at the Bell County Expo Center Saturday to welcome this year’s newest group of graduates from Ellison High School.

Ellison’s graduating class boasted 583 students, the second largest class in the Killeen Independent School District this year.

“This ceremony is truly a milestone in the life of each and every student here today,” said Robert Muller, Killeen ISD superintendent.

Before the graduates walked onto the stage to receive their diplomas, they heard from two of their peers, class salutatorian Matthew Charlton and valedictorian Aris Maguddayao. Both students reflected on the last four years and look toward a promising future for themselves and their fellow graduates.

Charlton told graduates to be proud of themselves and whatever path they choose moving forward; whether it is college, a career or joining the military.

“I encourage you to take pride in who you are, and what you do,” he said. “If you take pride in who you are and what you do, success will find you.”

In his speech, Maguddayao told his peers to “be their own superhero” and to keep a sense of imagination, ambition and faith as they move into a new chapter of their lives.

“Every single one of you is the protagonist in your own life story,” he said. “It’s up to you to make that story count.”

This year, Ellison’s graduating class had two graduates with family members deployed overseas. Along with providing those family members a chance to view the graduation via video teleconference, graduating students also revived a message of encouragement from Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commander currently serving as commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“In the military, we know it’s not just the soldiers that serve, the military families serve with us,” Milley said. “We thank you for your service and sacrifice.”

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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