ECHS Lion Olympics

ECHS Lion Olympics
By: Todd Martin
Killeen ISD’s state-honored Early College High School challenges students to a high level of achievement, while providing outlets for fun and games.
The first Friday of the school year leading into the three-day Labor Day holiday, the school’s newest Lions relaxed and enjoyed an annual competition designed to build cohesion and team spirit.
New sophomores competed in the morning and the new freshmen competed in the Lion Olympics in the afternoon.
In one game, teams from homeroom classes laid on the gym floor with their legs against a wall and passed a large ball one to another with their feet.
In another game, the homeroom teams competed in a volleyball game, throwing the huge, awkward ball over the net.
“We’re working as a group to lift everyone’s spirit,” said teacher Idamari De Gracia, whose team called themselves the “Potato Pride.”
Each team came up with a name and a chant.
“It’s a way to show our spirit, to compete as a group and to have some fun,” De Gracia said.
One of her students, freshman Austin Narvitz wore a potato head suit. “It’s fun,” he said. “It’s a way to express some enthusiasm. Class can be stressful and this provides relief.”
The new freshman said Early College High School appealed to him for the opportunity to finish two years of college while attending high school.
Early College High School students attend their first two years at a campus on Fort Hood and their last two years at Central Texas College, taking a gradually increasing number of college courses.
Several second-year students assisted with the freshmen games. A pair of the sophomores said they enjoyed the small, family-like environment of the rigorous school. 
Freshman Echo Hinton appreciated the school leaders’ efforts to provide a fun diversion the first week of the school year.
“I think it helps us like the school more. It’s fun,” she said, acknowledging it was a challenge to navigate the start of high school and college simultaneously.
“We’re getting into the school spirit,” Hinton said. “We all want to win the games.”
“It’s about building some team spirit,” said freshman Andrew Spivey. “No one is booing the other teams. It’s a bonding experience and we’re having a good time.”