BELTON — Snapshots flickered and voices roared Sunday afternoon as friends and family members packed the Bell County Expo Center to watch 589 Harker Heights High School graduates walk to the floor.
The 2 p.m. commencement ceremony recognized 13 graduates with deployed family members and 97 students who earned more than $2.5 million in scholarships, according to the commencement program.
Scholarship recipients included Justin Park, Kevin Park and Robert Sluss, three of 15 Killeen Independent School District students who earned KISD Board of Trustees scholarships.
Student council officer Anna C. Jordan dedicated the 2013 class gifts — an anchor desk and green screen for the school TV station.
Speeches started with a videotaped address from Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan.
“We in the military all know it’s not only the soldiers who serve, the military families serve with us,” Milley said. “Every day, your parents have to ensure that Afghanistan never again, never again, becomes a sanctuary for terrorism. … Your parents’ service is an act of love.”
Salutatorian Zachary W. Snider called on grads to consider impacts of future choices, emphasizing personal responsibility.
“The choices never end until the day we die,” Snider said. “Taking responsibility instead of constantly pointing fingers is not only a sign of personal maturity, but also a mark of potential success. We cannot learn from mistakes when we blame
others.…I hope that you take these words and store them in your mind as you move from this place onward into your life.”
Valedictorian Noah A. Golaboff reminisced on everything from calculus class to crowded hallways. He paused midspeech for shout-outs, drawing congratulatory responses from friends and family members.
“Our high school experiences were all different,” Golaboff said. “From the band kids to the athletic kids to art kids to everyone in between. … We took different paths, but they all led us to today. The unifying theme that bonds us together was Harker Heights High School. … Congratulations, guys. We did it.”