Middle School Readiness Welcomes Students Back

Eastern Hills students learn about clubsMiddle schools across Killeen ISD welcomed new sixth-graders and all the rest of their incoming student body for a sneak peek of the new school year.


Audie Murphy, Eastern Hills, Manor, Live Oak Ridge, Rancier, Nolan, Smith and Union Grove conducted orientation activities Wednesday. Patterson, Liberty Hill and Palo Alto scheduled orientation Thursday.


The middle school and high school readiness days all urge strong student involvement in activities like sports, fine arts and clubs. All also seek parent support.


At Rancier Middle School, Principal Janelle Muhammad spoke to parents in three sessions divided by grade level.


She introduced herself and explained the school’s high expectations for behavior and academic performance, as well as methods to stay in touch with teachers and administrators.


The principal also introduced the Rancier Ka-Roos cheerleaders and dance team. Both groups performed.


Next, students left the cafeteria to walk through a shortened version of their school schedule. At their first period class, students received their schedule, then followed the bells to go to each of their nine class periods for 10 minutes each.


Seeking feedback from teachers, the new Rancier principal found a desire to revitalize after-school clubs and to build new excitement in athletics, dance and a cheer pep squad.

Rancier dance team


“This needs to be a place where kids know they belong,” she said. “The more engaged they are, the more we can get to know them and engage together.”

Rancier cheerleaders


The school adopted a motto, “We are family,” a purposeful parallel to nearby Killeen High School’s FAMILY emphasis of a year ago.


“I have dreamed about Monday,” said an excited Muhammad of the coming first day of school. “Positive dreams.”


Rancier Middle School families will notice the new principal and other staff members greeting them out in front of the school at the start of the day.


“I feel excited,” said eighth-grade cheerleader Ava Scott. “We have a new principal open to new things. I practiced over the summer and I’m excited to show my skills. It’s going to be a great year and a new atmosphere.”


“It feels great,” said seventh-grader Ayriaya Williams. “I’m ready to come back.”


“What’s exciting to me,” said eighth-grader Addison Griffen, “is the new opportunities. We have lots of clubs and a new pep squad.”


She said the key to success in middle school is to avoid drama and to get involved in the life of the school.

Rancier students find their way to class


The mood was similar at the readiness day and Panther Camp at Eastern Hills Middle School.


New Principal Jacqulyn Bridge circulated through the cafeteria, talking with parents and students as they picked up their schedule and textbooks, took photos for a school ID and walked through an activity fair.


Eastern Hills’ theme this year is “Our School, Our Legacy,” focusing on school spirit.


“We are working to build our pride,” said Bridge. “All of our clubs are here.” She pointed out cheer and dance, which are getting started this year.


The school is planning numerous opportunities for parents to visit and be involved in the school.


Eastern Hills math teacher Sandra Pauyo is expanding a popular club she started for sixth grade last year to all grades.


The “Missed One or None” Math Club hosted after-school celebrations last year for all sixth-grade students who achieved a perfect score or missed just one problem in each unit.


There were 10 after-school gatherings – one for each math unit. Many of the parties included a STEM-related project like making homemade ice cream.


“The objective,” Pauyo said, “is to change the stereotypes about math and to celebrate and motivate those who are doing well in math.”


This year’s KISD middle school open house is Sept. 6 from 4 to 6 p.m.


High school open house is Sept. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.