Class of 2024 Stars Shine at Starmakers Banquet

Serenity Howery wins Kleiwer AwardThe brightest stars of the Class of 2024 galaxy lit up the evening as a community honored their achievement and launched them into a promising future.


The Killeen ISD Education Foundation hosted its annual Starmakers recognition banquet Thursday with family, friends and community sponsors filling the Killeen Civic and Conference Center ballroom.


The school year culminating event honored the top 10 graduating seniors of KISD’s six high schools and their chosen most influential educators.


“Tonight is a celebration of the bond between educators and students, and the sacredness of a high-quality education,” said Foundation Director Leslie Gilmore.  


Each high school principal took a turn at the podium, introducing the top 10 academically ranked seniors set to graduate next week and their chosen teacher.


Each pair stepped across the stage, received an award from a major Foundation sponsor and posed for a photo.


The evening culminated with the Kliewer Family Leadership Award, a $10,000 scholarship that went to Serenity Howery, salutatorian of Harker Heights High School.


Finalist award scholarships of $1,000 each went to Max Widacki, Killeen High School salutatorian, and to Vyom Patel, a Harker Heights High School top-10 graduate.


“I’m really appreciative of the Kliewer family’s generosity,” said Howery after winning the surprise scholarship.

Starmaker - Daejon Spead


“They are model citizens of the community, and what it means to be part of the Harker Heights Killeen area. I’m grateful they believe I can represent that. I want to make sure I uplift those ideals.”


In addition to graduating second in her class, Howery is a National Merit Scholar Finalist, the founding president of the school’s Excel Club, on the debate team and part of the Harker Heights city Teen Court.


She is going to the University of Texas to study biomedical engineering.


While most top students choose relatively recent high school teachers, coaches and directors to join them on the Starmakers stage, a few reach further back in their education.


Killeen High School senior Hugo Velazquez chose the leader of a young man’s leadership group back at East Ward Elementary School. He took the stage with Communities in Schools Site Director David Woodberry.


Woodberry continues to lead the CIS program at Killeen Elementary School.


When he first heard about his selection, the CIS leader showed up for a photo not knowing who had chosen him.


“I didn’t even recognize him. I hadn’t seen him since elementary school and now he’s a giant,” said Woodberry of Velazquez. “It was a huge shock. A good shock.”


The high-ranking KHS senior said he chose the CIS leader because of the early influence he had on him and many other students through a service group called the Gentleman Club.


“The way he took the time to teach community service. He taught us those skills, especially professional skills from a young age,” said Velazquez.

 Starmaker - Jada Stevenson

“He was the first educator to teach me how to be a good professional young man. It helped set me up for where I am today.”


Alexis Speakman, valedictorian for Early College High School chose AVID teacher Wayne Spears.


“It means everything,” said Spears, who has been chosen by a Starmaker student five times. “It is validation for all the hard work and effort I’ve put in to motivate. I can look back and say I’ve made an impact.”


“At first, I wasn’t sure about Mr. Spears,” said Speakman, explaining that he is strict, but caring.


“He definitely helped to push me to be the best version of myself. I really like that so that’s why I chose him.”


Superintendent Jo Ann Fey praised students’ hard work and pointed out the deep influence their chosen teachers instilled. After reading through the program booklet, she shared an observation.


“Not one of them talked about how this teacher taught them how to pass a test,” she said. “Every one of them talked about the relationship, the inspiration, the pushing, the high expectations and for that KISD educators, I am so proud.”


“Our foundation is blessed to be able to facilitate such a great event for our outstanding students,” Gilmore said. “Each of them has worked incredibly hard to get to where they are, and that is a testament to the amazing teachers and administrators across our district.”


She also praised the community donors who contribute to allow the foundation to award classroom and professional development grants to teachers and scholarships to seniors.


The Kliewer family and Beck Family Foundation accounted for more than $50,000 in gifts to students and staff in connection to the Starmakers event alone.


Starmaker photo gallery:



This year's top 10 students and their chosen educators include the following:


Chaparral High SchoolStarmaker - Phylicia Adams

Phylicia Adams             Briley Cameron

Antonio Atalig               Tina Tamplen

Julissa Cato                   Amy Birtchet

Muhammad Dar            Tracy Sibole

Madeleine Fey             Shilo Harris

Alicia Garcia                  Anastasia Winters

Dasani Henriquez          Damarys Gonzalez

Emillio Nieves               John Cook

Reynaldo Serna             Stephen Howdeshell

Keegan Thompson         Stacy Terral


Early College High School

Angelina Alvarez            Tamara Morgan

Allyson Braegelmann     Noel Taylor

Christian Butler             John Maxwell

Kimberly Field               Margaret Thurman

Aileen Menjivar             Brandon Mayse

Rachel Mitchell             Margaret Casanova

Siddhika Nepal             Chad Pettit

Alexis Speakman           Wayne Spears

Elias Tremusini             Tyler Cochran

Thanh Truong                Myphuong Tran


Ellison High SchoolStarmaker - Antonio Atalig

Rylee Dickerson             Geoffrey VanRiper

Iris Gabino                    Sarah Noteboom

Brianni Gaines               Haley Hersey

Juyoung Kim                 Andrea Garcia

Katriann Linton             Desi Torres

Shelby Martin               Kimberly Rogers

Y Nguyen                      Robin Scheafnocker

Erin Smith                     Larry Ballard

Jada Stevenson             Erik Reynolds

Abigail Wells-Bodon      Kelsi Lower


Harker Heights High School

Sarah Gill                      Rachael Hood

Brooklyn Grannis           Suzanne Thompson

Serenity Howery            Joshua Kroft

Hanah Kim                    Lucas Leavitt

June Lee                       Jesse Cox

Amber Loubiere            Steven Burrow

Kelly McGuire                Barton Jacques

Victoria McKinney         Tyler Henderson

Vyom Patel                   Margaret Landes

Heema Solanki             Lorre Brock


Killeen High SchoolStarmaker - Alicia Garcia

Israel Finnen                 Mitchell Gries

Gimena Melgarejo         Samantha Berg

Amarilis Muniz Otero     Warren Sanders

Emily Parsons                Kimberly Squires

Gabriel Runkle             Jimmy Hammond

Haley Stokoe                 Daniel Wood

Yaneli Vasquez             Fernando Hernandez

Hugo Velazquez             David Woodberry

Mariah Villasana           Keina Cook

Max Widacki                 Blake Jones


Shoemaker High School

Alana Gonzalez             Caroline Jackson

Karah Jackson               Janna Shelton

DaShwn Johnson           Christine Douglass

Emma McKinney           Cory Jones

Trezure Middlebrook     Michelle Clark

Andrea Munguia           Xavier Saulter

Gloribeth Peter             Jeff Watson

Daejon Spead                Stephen Barrick

Jaelon Spead                 Philip Crosby

Sierra Woodberry          Tiffany Jackson