KHS Hosts Huge Gathering

State Student Council Conference
By: Todd Martin
ARLINGTON - On a platform large as Texas in what must be one of the largest gatherings of students all year, thousands of high school student council members planned, networked, played and learned and Killeen High School’s footprint was all over it.
The Killeen High School Student Council applied and won the privilege of serving as host for the 83rd annual Texas Association of Student Councils Conference in Arlington and they pulled it off this past weekend, ending the mammoth event Tuesday.
A group of 66 KHS students, student council members and Kangarettes and Island Dancer members, made the trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They hung the pictures, posters and stage sets, facilitated workshop sessions and conducted outdoor team-building games.
They also spent a year booking speakers, building activities around the inspiring theme “Resolve to Rise,” and learning their own lessons of working through obstacles to do something great – resolving to rise.
The speakers for the three-day conference included Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft and KHS Principal Kara Trevino.
On Monday, after delivering her own address to the 5,000 assembled students and then watching a powerful series of presentations from a variety of councils campaigning for leadership roles, Trevino said she was as inspired as any of the students.
“It’s so inspiring,” she said as waves of students made their way out of the Arlington Convention Center toward their next activity. “I’m really proud of our kids. They have put in so much effort working with TASC, organizing and leading the way. It’s beyond words.”
Perhaps one of the more memorable KHS contributions to the conference took place between morning and afternoon sessions Monday in and around a youth baseball park set in the midst of the convention center and the hulking stadium homes of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Killeen students set up a series of games on a grassy area and hundreds of students came to play. They tried their skills at jumbo versions of the puzzle game “Jenga” as well as modified versions of “Foos Ball,” a huge “Connect Four” and other games.
Several students played pick-up volleyball and an energetic game of kickball broke out in the youth sports stadium.
“It’s been very hectic, but very rewarding,” said KHS sophomore Caroline Sylvia, one of many students feeling the fatigue and pushing through it. She looked around at the perfect spring day and students having a blast. “We made this,” she said, “and people are laughing.”
Bringing together student leaders from El Paso to Amarillo to Beaumont, the Valley and across Central Texas, from 349 high schools, the conference activities challenged students to work together and motivated them to serve their communities.
Walking across the multiple venues in the heart of Arlington’s convention and entertainment hub, Student Council Advisor Travis Waltz said the mountain of work was worth it. “I’d do it again,” he said, praising his school’s and KISD’s support through the effort.
He also praised the Kangarettes, Killeen High School’s dance team, which took the time to come up with a dance for the conference and joined in with student council leaders in providing the behind-the-scenes push to move the event forward.
Kangarettes senior Gabi San Nicolas said she was blown away by the experience. She expected a few motivational speakers and some workshops, but not on the level she witnessed. “I’ve never been to anything like this,” she said. “There is a lot of negative out in the world, but here we’re seeing so many who care. So many are open to helping others.”
“It’s incredibly stressful, but everyone has been amazing,” said Sylvia, explaining how the games, the artistic images of a mountain and rising to the top were meant to inspire.
“Resolving to rise means becoming your best self,” she said. “The games aren’t just about having fun, but learning leadership. They are built so that you can see each other and you have to communicate.”
Trevino praised the students’ efforts, as well as Waltz and his fellow student council advisor Jennifer Larkin for putting in the extra work after school and on weekends to pull off the hosting duties for the event.
“The theme of resolving to rise is appropriate,” Trevino said. “We all go through challenging issues and as leaders we have to work through those. Leadership is not rocket science, but it is exhausting. It is emotional in the most positive way.”