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    By Todd Martin

    Voices from the past mingled with those of today and the young voices of future leaders paid homage to the past while gazing into the future.

    Celebrating 50 years of serving students, a former principal and a retired 45-year teacher hailed the profound impact of Bellaire Elementary School. A group of third-graders called the Morning Stars welcomed guests and presented facts from 1966.

    Against a star-studded backdrop Thursday, a student choir sang a period piece asking, “How many roads must a man walk down before he becomes a man?” At the end, blue-and-white balloons lifted into the night sky.

    Speakers praised students, faculty and community supporters for working together as a team through the challenges of growth and change to propel children into an uncertain future.

    “Together, we make good things happen,” said Bellaire Principal Lavonda Loney, referencing the theme from the school’s 25-year celebration now 25 years past.

    She named the school’s previous principals and said that current leaders glean from their predecessors while mapping a road to the future. All of us, she said, bear responsibility for teaching and for learning.

    Superintendent John Craft said the school’s long, productive history speaks to a commitment to teamwork. The payback, he said, is deep impact in the lives of generations of students.

    A series of speakers and student presentations seemed to testify to the impact of five decades of committed educators.

    Nolan Middle School Principal Lollie Garcia, a former Bellaire principal, said her staff members displayed propensity to “bloom where you are planted,” serving children during their time at the school and carrying that ethic to other places.

    A video mixed pre-recorded testimony from several former Bellaire staff members with the thoughts of current students.

    Former Bellaire teacher and former Haynes Elementary Principal Linda Pelton recalled that the white-brick school on Jasper Drive was the first completely air-conditioned school in the Killeen school district.

    Illustrating the tremendous growth of the area, she said that in about 1971, all the district’s teachers could fit inside Bellaire Elementary School to take part in training during the summer.

    Today, Bellaire is one of the smaller schools in Killeen ISD, though the building has expanded multiple times over the decades.

    The Morning Stars, a group of third-graders that deliver the school’s announcements each day welcomed the large audience. Taking turns, they said 1966 was a year when the game Twister was new and a band called the Beatles was popular.

    Ida Hendrix, recently retired from 45 years of teaching first grade at Bellaire, thanked school leaders and supporters for her “amazing journey.”

    She said teaching is a unique profession that requires learning over many years and draws from the wisdom of seasoned educators and the poignant thoughts of young children. “Thank you for an amazing journey,” she said.

    Hendrix’s comments recalling her career served as a charge into the future for today’s teachers. “You hope and pray that you enrich lives into productive, responsible citizens.”

    February 17, 2017