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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Area seniors awarded silver cords

Area seniors awarded silver cords

By TODD MARTIN, Killeen Independent School District

Successfully completing two years of college while in high school, 61 area seniors received a silver cord in celebration of a golden achievement.

The Texas Bioscience Institute hosted its annual silver cording ceremony Wednesday at Temple College. Students received braided silver cords a few weeks before most will receive an associate’s degree and then their high school diploma.

The students, including 43 from the four Killeen ISD high schools, spent half their school day the past two years taking college-level math and science courses in the bioscience program.

Along the way, the students built cohesion as a group and many solidified plans to further their education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“It’s a relief,” said Simran Bhakta of Ellison High School as she smiled broadly at the end of the ceremony at the Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center on the TC campus.

“It’s been a great experience, we did a lot that we can’t do on a high school campus,” she said. “We do more labs and we’re expected to meet more responsibilities here.”

In addition to completing high school and two years of college courses, cord recipients earned at least 16 hours of job shadowing, 16 hours of community service and conducted research or participated in a lecture series.

After earning her associate’s degree from TC and diploma from Ellison High School, Bhakta said she plans to attend Texas A&M University and study biology.

She believes her time in the bioscience program will help pave her challenging academic road ahead. “We were up earlier,” she said of her daily schedule traveling to Temple for class. “It was stressful at times, but I learned to balance everything with extra-curricular activities.”
David Blackburn, president of the Temple Economic Development Corporation, spoke to the cord recipients from the standpoint of a parent whose daughter completed the TBI program in 2010.

Kimberly Blackburn applied to many colleges and was accepted to all. She attended the University of Colorado, where she finished one-and-a-half years early. Currently, she’s teaching English at a school in China.

“She would tell you TBI and TC prepared her for where she is in a way she did not anticipate,” Blackburn said of his daughter. “I am confident your experience will serve you well.”

Harker Heights High School senior Ethan Atkisson said the learning experience at TBI was exceptional and that the camaraderie with his fellow students was important.

“TBI is a crazy learning experience,” he said. “It expands your way of thinking and how you view the world. It feels accelerated and progressive. Everyone here is seeking knowledge. Everyone is motivated.”

Atkisson, who is headed to Texas A&M University to pursue biomedical studies, said the TBI program gave him valuable insight into the college lifestyle regarding balancing priorities and pushing yourself.

“You have to access gears you didn’t know you had,” he said.

Still, the culminating ceremony, the senior said, was bittersweet. “I’m happy about the achievement, but this is like a second home. It has brought a family together.”

“I got to experience different things,” said Shoemaker High School senior Mark Reyes. “I enjoyed getting to know other people from all the high schools. We’re one big family.”

The 43 silver cord recipients from KISD include the following:
Ellison High – Simran Bhakta, Dusti Douglas, Sarah Driver, Joseph Duong, Tre’Vaughn Felder, Kayla Kearney, Kristie Simms and Josiah Thomas
Harker Heights – Ethan Atkisson, Vincent Barronette, Alwin Collado-Cintron, Kevin Doan, Alexandria Gay, Rowan Hall, Shelby Hawkins, Molly Heckathorn, Emily Kriegh, Morgan Lee, Emily Muller, Eleni Nasiotis, Teancum Piekarski and Racquelle Requenez
Killeen – Rocio Castelan, Sydney Chastain, Christian Hernandez-Zegada, Angela Lewis, Daniel Lopez, Esther Na, Jasmine Ray, Nathaniel Shearer, Shanice Smith and Marquis Winston
Shoemaker – Ethan Clary, Wade Corn, Natalie Gonsalves, Tanya Haden, Caleb Kidwell, My Nguyen, Jannelle Nunez, Chelsea Owens, Mark Reyes, Anastasiya Strohonova and Julian Tahimik

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