By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – Parents, family members and friends of Killeen High School class of 2008 graduating seniors crowded into the Bell County Expo Center on Sunday night.
As the 345 graduating seniors poured into the stadium one by one, parts of the crowd cheered and others attempted to take pictures of the progressing line of Roo robes, while all stood watching.
Killeen High School held its graduation ceremony for the class of 2008 at 6 p.m. Sunday in the Expo Center.
"I am very proud of him," said Rhonda Grant, mother of graduating senior Chaz Grant. "I want to send him off well into this world. Hopefully, he would be good to the world, and the world would be good to him."
Like some parents, Grant wasn't ready to see her only son graduate, but was proud to see him do it, she said.
"Actually, I didn't want this moment to come," Grant said. "I wanted him to take forever. It is a huge accomplishment to him. Many don't make it here, because they don't have the support of their family or friends. I am very proud of him. I am honored to be his mother."
Some other parents said graduation didn't come soon enough.
"It is great. It is wonderful," said Karl Briddell, father of graduating senior Monica Briddell. "She is my last one, so that gives me a little extra excitement."
Briddell has been waiting 18 years to see his daughter walk across the stage and grow up, he said.
"I am a proud father today," Briddell said. "She is graduate with honors in AVID (Achievement Via Individual Determination program). It is a struggle, but once you get to this day, it is just moot."
During graduation, many of the graduating speakers thanked their parents. Some even in multiple languages. Both Sontae Kim, senior class president, and Yesenia Sanchez, valedictorian, spoke in English for part of their speeches followed by another language.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, the commander of Multi-National Divison-Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division commander, spoke to those graduating via a recording. He told the graduating seniors how much their parents love them.
"They love you more than life," Hammond said after telling them congratulations for making it through high school.
Hammond went on to tell them what characteristics their parents said they wanted their children to have.
"The most important things that you can take with you is courage and a good moral character," Hammond said.
Other speakers spoke words of encouragement and congratulations.
Some parents, such as Briddell, believe that the graduation ceremony is a time for family enjoyment, and was happy Killeen Independent School District offers such a ceremony.
"It allows the family to get together for a time of happiness," Briddell said. "It is really touching to have family together to see her walk across the stage."
"I am going to miss her a lot," Briddell added. "As a father, it is hard to let go."
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554.