Patterson Celebrates 10 Years

Charles Patterson addresses 10-year ceremony.
By: Todd Martin
Marking a decade of high achievement, the namesake of Charles Patterson Middle School joined the school’s past and current principals to reflect on 10 years of impressive accomplishments and to encourage today’s students to continue a relentless pursuit of excellence.
During a 10-year anniversary ceremony Saturday, Patterson stood in the gym of the school that bears his name, expressed gratitude to the school district’s past leaders, then pointed toward the band and choir students participating in the program.
“It’s about them, the students,” he said, gesturing across the gym floor. He also looked to three women seated to his right – the current and former principals he called heroes for building and continuing a vision of excellence.
“It’s not by accident that culture was established,” Patterson, a former Killeen ISD superintendent, said.
Throughout the formal event, Superintendent John Craft, Patterson, former principals Jill Balzer and Kara Trevino and Principal Latisha Williams described a historical narrative that accompanied Killeen’s southward growth and a growing tradition that draws from a proud past.
When Balzer took on the task of leading the school in its first year in 2009 she was a first-year principal at Fairway Middle School in the north part of town. She and many educators merged together students from three existing middle schools. They brought the color orange from Fairway and adopted the mascot Cavaliers as a nod to the First Cavalry Division.
The school’s name also implies deep roots in the school district’s history. Charles and Clara Patterson came to Killeen more than 60 years ago. He started as a teacher at the Avenue D School and moved on to Rancier Junior High and Killeen High School before moving into central administration and eventually superintendent from 1988 to 2004.
“Dr. Patterson was the main driver for KISD to thrive,” Craft said, pointing out that a vast number of the district’s schools bear his name as superintendent, a memorial to the continuous growth he helped navigate.
Patterson was more than a top administrator. Craft called him a dear friend and principals counted him as an influential mentor in their professional and personal lives.
“I leaned on a lot of people,” Patterson said, naming Leo Buckley and C.E. Ellison among them. “God has richly blessed our lives.”
Three former students with close ties to the principals, including two who are now Patterson teachers introduced the influential teachers and coaches who became principals. All three spoke of a culture of excellence marked by academic success, celebrating cultural diversity and a whole bunch of trophies – 77 district championships in 10 years.
“Patterson is a game changer,” said Williams, a former KHS basketball coach that led her team to the playoffs all 12 years of her tenure. She said five years ago she shadowed then Patterson assistant principal Kara Trevino and noticed the energy of the administrators and the discipline of the students.
“I got a taste of the extra degree people in this building go to,” she said, agreeing with her predecessors that the Cavalier culture builds high achievers as well as a sense of family.
Christina Robinson, a 2007 KHS graduate is in her fourth year teaching at Patterson. “It’s like another home to me,” she said. Jennae Young was in the first eighth grade class and is a first-year Patterson teacher. “The culture is what made the difference,” she said. “Expectations are so high here.”
Following the ceremony in the gym, students, staff and guests toured the library to see the contents of a time capsule and to step through a gallery walk of trophies lining the shelves.
To end the event, art teacher Amanda Bowman unveiled a 10-panel art piece representing the school’s first decade. Those connected to the school signed the back of the final panel. The colorful, multiple-imaged piece will be installed high on a wall of the school’s main hallway.
Current and past students designed and created the stenciled images for the unique piece that reflects the school’s annual themes, including this year’s – relentless.
Eighth-grader Miyoko Faulkner, one of the numerous artists, said she formed the image of someone pushing a boulder up a hill to achieve a goal. “I think it represents Patterson very well with the colors and theme,” she said of the mural. “It shows we’re all together in unity.”