Killeen, TX/2021 - Honoring a special group of soon-to-graduate seniors, Killeen ISD’s Career and Technical Education leaders distributed hundreds of purple cords in recognition of achievement above and beyond the expected.
The Killeen ISD Career Center expected about 325 seniors to participate in the celebration Monday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
In all, about 368 seniors are expected to earn more than 500 industry level certifications in a wide array of career-focused programs. While the large majority of the honored students attend the Career Center, some completed their work on other high school campuses.
“The most precious part of this to me,” said Chief College, Career, Military Readiness Officer Nancy Patterson, “is that they have all met high school requirements to graduate and these have stepped beyond.”
Meeting the state’s academic requirements to graduate from high school while simultaneously earning workplace certification, the seniors, she said are “prepared and competitive” for their next steps.
Tristan Haynes, the student master of ceremonies for the event, earned a Radio Operators Certification and is set to graduate from Shoemaker High School.
“The Career Center is a big family,” he said prior to taking the stage. “Other than my family by blood, these are the people who looked after me. They made sure I was ready to graduate. It’s a big family.”
Catarina Barajas, Harker Heights High School senior, provided the invocation for the evening. She has completed the Education in Training sequence in preparation for becoming a teacher and is set to compete nationally in the Educators Rising organization.
“My time at the Career Center has shown me a lot. It’s confirmed that I want to teach,” she said. “It has pushed me to my limits and allowed me to do something great. I think it’s something everyone should experience. It pushes you.”
Career Center Principal Russell Porterfield expressed pride in the students’ accomplishments. He and Patterson also thanked CTE instructors and parents and other family members for their support to the high-achieving students.
“I just want them to know how proud I am of them,” Porterfield said prior to the ceremony. “They have earned industry credentials that prepare them to go into the workforce.”
While some of the seniors will enter the workforce right away, many will move on to college or other post-secondary institutions or the military.
Wherever they go, Porterfield said, they go with a competitive advantage over their peers.
Bradley Watson, soon to graduate from Ellison High School, provided student reflection. He thanked his teachers in the veterinary assistance courses, as well as history and English teachers and other school staff members.
“I began high school as a competitive student and that was enhanced at the Killeen Career Center,” Watson said.
“I had to persist to get through. It was the people who impacted me the most. They helped me solidify my goals. I learned how to lead an organization and to strive beyond the average.”