ECHS Senior Walk Motivates

Early College HS Senior Walk
By: Todd Martin
High-achieving, trail-blazing high school seniors took advantage of their academic star power Monday to light a path of inspiration for a younger generation to follow.
In a striking show of academic symmetry, a dozen of the first-ever senior class of the Killeen ISD Early College High School paraded through the hallways of a middle school and two elementary schools in a senior walk.
As the high school seniors dressed in caps and gowns walked the hallways in the first of a series of three planned senior walks this week, younger students responded with signs of congratulations, extended hands and lots of cheers.
The 166 Early College High School seniors are in a unique period between the Central Texas College graduation May 10 and their high school graduation May 31.
Assistant Principal Kayren McCarty said a teacher suggested the idea of a senior walk from another school and the campus leadership took the idea to the seniors for approval.
The Early College High School, now finishing its fourth year, allows students to complete two years of college and an associate’s degree through CTC while completing their high school diploma.
“We wanted to showcase our students,” said McCarty, who led the parade at its first stops. “We also wanted them to inspire the younger students to follow the same path.”
The senior walk began at Haynes Elementary School and continued at Rancier Middle School and Harker Heights Elementary School. The schedule includes eight more stops this week prior to the start of final exams for many.
Senior Clarissa Chavarin held a sign near the front of the group of students. She said the walk ended up motivating her to keep going even as she comes to the end of a rigorous academic journey.
“It’s motivating for me to keep going to school,” the high school senior and college graduate said. “I think it also opens kids’ eyes. They can wear the cap and gown and cords and stole, too.”
“The senior walk is a time to inspire,” said senior Fatima Hernandez. “The little children look up to us. If I can, they can, too. It’s really cool.”
At the last stop of the day, Harker Heights Elementary School, the Early College guests joined a group from Ellison High School visiting the school to perform “Charlotte’s Web” as reward for strong test scores. The groups paused to eat pizza together.
Harker Heights Elementary School Principal Carolyn Dugger praised the ECHS students for their high achievement and thanked them for serving as role models for the younger students.
“It does feel like an achievement,” said Chavarin. “College became the new normal for us.” She said she attended the school just three years, requiring her to push even harder, at times sacrificing sleep and time with friends.
“It was all worth it for that moment (at the CTC graduation) to hear graduate with honors,” she said of her recent college graduation.
“Today it’s nice to see kids cheering us on,” said senior Soichiro Giancaspro, who graduated with highest honors at CTC. “I saw some eyes looking at us. I hope they strive to be where we are. I am grateful for everyone who helped us get to this point.”