Meadows Elementary Welcomes Back Alabama Guests

Meadows students build racetrackA friendship borne out of mutual affinity for military sacrifice and service to community forged an ongoing and unlikely relationship between two schools.


For the fifth time a group of a dozen students from Liberty Middle School in Madison, Alabama are visiting Meadows Elementary School, a Killeen ISD school on Fort Cavazos.


The middle school students are interacting with their younger peers, reading and taking part in learning centers with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students and doing a book study, writing project and STEM-centered activities with older students.


The Alabama students are all part of Student 2 Student, a service group affiliated with the Military Child Education Coalition that supports military-connected students and family members.


The visiting students call themselves “Texabama.”


They spent much of Wednesday morning in collaboration with fourth-graders on a book study and working to construct race tracks in the hallway.


Using Hot Wheels track parts and cars, the students tried out different configurations to launch the tiny cars as far and fast as possible.


The idea, said teacher Doyle Banks, was to build synergy among the students and together come up with innovate suggestions, not to simply follow a set of instructions.


The Texas-Alabama connection began at an MCEC conference in 2015, when Meadows campus technologist Stephanie Young and Madison Middle School nurse Benita Turnstill met through their respective S2S groups.


The pair started brainstorming and haven’t stopped.

Meadows with Alabama friends


They have connected over robotics, service projects, reading and writing and sharing life.


Now, middle school students in Madison, Alabama look forward to traveling to the middle of Texas to interact with children of soldiers.

Hot Wheels tracks


Mae Herndon, a seventh-grader is visiting Meadows for the second year.


“We do book studies with the kids,” she said. “We like to bring them gifts from Alabama.”


The S2S group connects with military groups in their community.


“We do a lot with military kids,” she said. “I like talking with the kids about all their moves. They are so young and that sounds hard. I’ve never moved.”


Eighth-grader Grant Jauken is also on his second trip to Meadows and Fort Cavazos.


“It’s great to come to Texas,” he said. “We help military kids at our school so it’s great to come here and help outside our school…It’s great to see the joy on their faces.”


He acknowledged the joy goes both ways. Middle school students get wrapped up in playing with Hot Wheel cars and with reading and playing with the younger children.


They also visited an early childhood center in Temple ISD where they donated one of two Free Little Libraries and played some basketball with children.


“We’re here to help military kids,” said Kindoule Hill, an eighth-grader on her first trip to Meadows. “Some of them might have parents gone and it might be nice to have special guests.”

Meadows-Alabama friendship


For all the service and activity, students seemed most excited about time together.


“I like hanging out with the kids,” Hill said.


“I’ve learned a lot about not thinking just about myself,” said Jauken. “It’s good to bring a smile to someone’s face, to be a friend.”


Meadows fourth-graders Salvatore Randazzo and Lux Ron said they were happy to welcome the big kids with the Southern accents to their classroom.


“They are creative, helpful and smart,” said Ron. “It’s cool they wanted to come here from somewhere else.”


“They are creative and really nice and fun,” said Randazzo. “I haven’t had guests before in my class. It’s fun to have people from a different state come visit.”