Goodbye kiss
Spc. Stephen Merrit, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Eng. Brigade, kisses his daughter Madelyn goodbye during her first day of pre-kindergarten in her Montague Village Elementary School classroom at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 16. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - Students here returned to campus for the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year Aug. 16.

With no option within the Killeen Independent School District for remote learning this school year, all KISD students are attending schools on campus.

The emotions of parents were mixed during Montague Village Elementary School’s morning drop off. Excitement was a main theme, but for some, especially parents of younger children, the morning was bittersweet.

“I’m excited, but sad at the same time,” Spc. Joshua Concepcion, 74th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, said about dropping off his youngest child at school.

KISD schools on post must adhere to the guidelines set forth by Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, wherein masks are required to be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status. For younger children, keeping their masks on will be an added challenge to the school year.

“Keeping her mask on will be the hardest part because she’s never had to wear one. Her saying she’ll put it on this morning was the best thing to me.” Cheyene Merritt, spouse of Spc. Steven Merritt, Forward Support Company, 20th Engineer Bn., 36th Eng. Bde., said about her 3-year-old daughter Madelyn, who started pre-kindergarten at Montague.

First year teacher and military spouse, Olivia Edsall, acknowledges that children of service members can deal with many challenges, including those related to COVID-19, and it is her goal to build a supportive family within her first classroom. Working together plays a big part when it comes to following protocols and practicing healthy hygiene habits within the classroom.

First day selfie
Sgt. Aldria Leggett, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Division, takes a selfie with her daughter Amara on the first day of school in a Montague Village Elementary School classroom at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 16. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“I know that being a child in a military family can be difficult. Therefore, I have become aware of my campuses’ resources, and I am ready to support my students if they are feeling down. My classroom community will be a family that supports each other with their feelings,” Edsall said. “I also know that my first-grade students had a challenging first year due to the pandemic. We are back to school with COVID-19 protocols in place, and this might be hard for students to follow. We will work together to stay safe and continue to learn.”

Natalie Cue, who began her third year as the Montague Village Elementary School principal, said she is excited about the school year and is looking forward to a lot of parental involvement. Since the campus had in-person and virtual classrooms during the 2020-2021 school year, she is happy for everyone to be back to school.

“Being able to make an impact, and impact a whole campus of kids and supporting kids to see the best in themselves and growing the craft of my teachers,” Cue said. “I think that’s one of the biggest pieces of being an instructional leader is you get a chance to grow teachers and help them do what they can do best for kids.”