Celebrating a group of overcomers, the Killeen Independent School District honored its summer graduates Saturday at a commencement ceremony.

After two summer school sessions, students from all four district high schools combined to receive their diplomas in front of family and friends at Killeen High School.

Among the 38 candidates listed in the program was Harker Heights High School new graduate Mylesia Harrell.

“It feels overwhelming,” she said after posing in a red cap and gown for family photos while holding her new diploma. “I feel accomplished like I made everyone proud.”

Willie Davis, a 2012 KISD graduate addressed the group of students.

Now working for the Boys & Girls Club and preparing for a ministry career, Davis said early in high school educators identified him as having talent and the ability to achieve.

He said he identified himself differently and knew he needed to make changes in his life.

Davis attended the Pathways Academic Campus, where he thrived, overcoming obstacles to find success.

Concluding the ceremony, Ellison High School curriculum director Rhea Bell, a history teacher, pointed out the high school graduates’ personal histories, which include supporting casts of friends and family.

She said that life, like history, tends to repeat itself, providing individuals fresh chances “to get it right.”

Bell encouraged the new graduates to thank those who helped them on their educational journey.

While many people make an impression, she said there are a few “true north stars” who are especially important in providing guidance to move on through life.

“Love, thank and hold dear those people,” she said.

Harrell said she overcame obstacles to finish high school, getting up early to go to class during the summer to finish her work. She plans to pursue college in North Carolina.

Nancy Duran, Killeen High School curriculum director and co-director of the summer school, credited the students for their determination and persistence.

She directed the parents in the audience to stand so students could express their thanks. Duran called the parents “mission essential personnel” for supporting their students.

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