Students, parents, alumni and members of the community packed Meadows Elementary School on Thursday evening to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first school at Fort Hood.

The school’s partner unit, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, kicked off the event with a presentation of colors, followed by the pledge of allegiance and pledge to Texas by student Hope Simpson. In between performances by the Meadows Choir, current and past educators spoke on the school’s importance at Fort Hood and in Killeen.

Principal Sara Watson described the celebration as a monumental moment, with many community members having personal ties to the school.

“With how mobile our community is, (Meadows teachers) have had a positive influence all over the world,” Watson said.

Karol Carlisle, a former Meadows principal, said the school will always be home for her.

“I have absolutely fabulous memories of industrious and inventive students.”

Kristina Perez, a former student who is now a fifth-grade teacher at the school, called her time at Meadows an amazing journey.

“I first walked through those doors in October of 1991,” Perez said. “I didn’t know my world would end up here.” Her first and only teaching interview was at Meadows.

“This is my family,” she said.

Former principal Judy Van Riper became emotional speaking about her lengthy history with the elementary school. She moved to and from Fort Hood repeatedly, as a child and later as an adult married to an Army aviator.

“Every single day, I’m grateful my foundation as student, teacher and principal was at Meadows,” she said. “When you leave Meadows, you never know, you just might come back home again.”

Today, there are nine Killeen Independent School District schools at Fort Hood.

Contact Madison Lozano​ at or 254-501-7552.

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