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    By Todd Martin

    In one school dedication ceremony, the Killeen Independent School District honored a founding leader of the community, rededicated a middle school and celebrated a new academy.

    Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft called the dedication of Roy J. Smith Middle School a re-dedication, joining several leaders in pointing out the school’s proud heritage and exciting future.

    Named for a U.S. Navy veteran who came to the area just after World War II and served as president of the town’s largest bank, the school is the second in town to bear his name.

    The original Smith Middle School was located on Fort Hood, opened in 1976 and in 2016 repurposed as KISD’s Early College High School for freshmen and sophomores. That program allows students to earn an associate’s degree as they earn their high school diploma.

    The new Roy J. Smith Middle School, occupying 214,000 square feet in a residential subdivision along Bunny Trail, is home to KISD’s first middle school STEM Academy, providing new opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

    “It’s great to have the opportunity to dedicate the new facility and to continue the tradition of Smith Middle School,” said Principal Chad Wolf. “It’s a privilege to lead such a great team of staff and students.”

    “It’s awesome and it’s big,” said Smith sixth-grader Nevaeh Rivera, who helped lead in the Pledge of Allegiance. “It’s a big school. There are a lot of good kids and there is a great staff here.”

    “I like it because it’s brand new and we are one of the first classes,” said sixth-grader Loryn Krei. “All of the teachers are nice.”

    Expressing excitement over the expanded STEM components, Craft pointed out that the STEM academy proved so popular that there are 800 students on a waiting list. The academy is made up of 440 students, chosen from all the district’s 10 middle schools through application and lottery. In total, the middle school opened with more than 1,200 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

    Board of Trustees President Corbett Lawler was the first principal of the original Smith Middle School. He praised community leaders from the past and said today’s residents are “living the dream” of Roy J. Smith.

    “We are living his dream,” Lawler said. “He wanted to build this community.” The longtime bank president and city and chamber of commerce leader stamped his influence on a huge number of buildings in the area. Both of the new schools opened their doors along with the rest of KISD on August 28.

    The district also honored Mancel Bolton, the retired vice president of Cloud Construction. He helped lead 37 projects in KISD dating back to the early 1970s.

    September 9, 2017

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