One has worked hard throughout the school year while her dad is deployed overseas. Another has improved his reading skills by two grade levels. A third has overcome obstacles and inspired others to do the same.
All three are first-graders who received medallions at Harker Heights Elementary School Monday for showing the character trait of perseverance.
One by one, Principal Carolyn Dugger read the teacher nomination forms for each student, revealing children who work hard despite challenges and improve little by little to reach their goals.
The Early Act First Knight character education program, active in four Killeen ISD elementary schools through the sponsorship of local Rotary Clubs, gave away awards for April this week.
Ceremonies took place Monday at Harker Heights and Willow Springs elementary schools and were scheduled Tuesday at Haynes and West Ward elementary schools. The final medal ceremonies of the school year are planned May 22 and 23.
At Willow Springs Elementary School in Killeen, two mothers smiled extra wide, honoring two of their children in the same day.
Syncondia Davis stood alongside sons Anton Davis, a kindergarten student and Michael Davis, a third-grader, both chosen by their teachers for demonstrating perseverance.
Samantha Santos cheered on her son, Azriel Martinez and her daughter, Kalyssia Martinez, both fifth-graders and presented them with homemade candy bar necklaces.
“It feels great,” Santos said, beaming with pride for her children. “They work together. It’s amazing. I know they feel accomplished, that they are doing good.”
She said her two children know their mother works hard for them and they work hard, too.
“They know how hard it is to be a single parent,” Santos said. “It’s hard, but you have to do it. They make me proud.”
“It’s great. I know they strive to do their best,” Davis said of her two sons honored Monday. “They don’t give up.”
Davis has a third child who has been honored before in the character education program. She said the knighting ceremonies make a difference. “I love it,” she said. “It keeps them encouraged.”
Addressing parents and grandparents in the audience at Harker Heights, Dugger said strong character leads to success in academics, in faith and in leadership in the school, home and community.
She pointed out representatives of the school’s Fort Hood adopt-a-school unit and the Harker Heights Rotary Club as examples of community servants.
Before handing out medals, Sir Cass Garcia of the Knights of the Guild told a story of a squire named Ian who was not a natural athlete, but used his intellect and determination to gain a knighthood.
As the story goes, the young squire started training daily two hours before his more gifted colleagues began and continued well past the others finished. Determination led to success and inspired others.
Davis said when her younger son started kindergarten this year he struggled at first, but it didn’t last long. “He didn’t focus that first day,” she said, “but I knew he wasn’t going to give up.”