BELTON — The Copperas Cove High School Class of 2021 went out with a bang Friday evening as thunder clapped and rumbled outside the Bell County Expo Center.
A total of 450 seniors walked across the stage to receive their high school diploma and begin the next chapter in their lives.
For some, including class president Emma Miller, that journey will include college.
Miller is set to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.
She said that when she was a freshman, she set herself a goal to be on the stage giving a speech at her graduation at the Bell County Expo Center.
During her speech, Miller brought the crowd to laughter. Also during her speech, she implored her classmates to stay true to themselves.
“I hope you all continue to believe in yourself, because I believe in each one of you,” she said. “Understand that each one of you is going to do amazing things in life.”
Class salutatorian Kacy Carter had similar parting words of wisdom for the graduating class.
“The most significant piece of advice I would like to give you all tonight is that there is no right or wrong way to live a life, so make the choices that you think are the best for you,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, what matters is your happiness and content with your decisions.”
Superintendent Joe Burns began his address to the graduates by saying this graduating class may have had the strangest high school experience of any graduating class in Copperas Cove history.
During their senior year, the students had to endure a global pandemic and a historic ice storm.
Ultimately, Burns said he was glad to be doing a traditional graduation ceremony. He referred to the Bell County Expo Center as “home.”
Burns took the time during his speech to recognize some of the schools the graduates will be attending.
Graduating seniors will be attending school as far away as the University of Alaska-Anchorage and Florida State University.
Among the 450 graduates, 75% will either pursue post-secondary education or go into the military.
In total, the seniors earned more than $1.7 million in scholarship money, $200,000 of which were for athletic scholarships.