By Rebecca LaFlure
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – After the initial confusion of Thursday's mass shooting, even the youngest Fort Hood residents offered support to their community.
Students at Clear Creek Elementary School decorated thank-you cards Monday to deliver to soldiers injured in the mass shooting on post that left 13 dead and 38 wounded.
Third-graders in Julie Beasley's class sketched American flags, hearts and Army tanks on their cards. It was part of a school-wide effort for students to show their appreciation to soldiers.
"I'm saying thank you to soldiers for serving our country," said 8-year-old John Gibbons, whose dad is currently deployed to Iraq.
Nearly 2,700 students at 10 Killeen ISD schools remained trapped inside their campuses for five hours Thursday until Fort Hood officials said the danger was contained.
Clear Creek, located at Fort Hood, was about to dismiss its students when Principal Maryann Ramos received a phone call to pull everyone inside, including the hundreds of parents who arrived to pick up their children.
About 1,200 people were locked inside the building.
"All I could think of was to take care of the kids and the staff. They're my priority," Ramos said.
Many of the military parents volunteered to guard the halls and campus entries.
"It was almost an immediate reaction," Ramos said. "They came out and said, 'We can help.'"
Beasley said she played games with 11 adults and 37 students in her classroom until the lockdown ended.
"The kids were calm, but they really didn't know what was going on for a long time," she said. "At first they thought it was a drill."
Keyna Ramos, 9, said she didn't find out about the shootings until the lockdown ended, and she returned home.
"My mom and dad told me what happened. ... I got very scared," said Keyna, as she wrote a letter thanking soldiers for their bravery. "I wanted to sleep in my mom's room."
KISD officials reopened their doors Friday morning and students returned to class as scheduled.
"They (the students) haven't talked about it much in the classroom," Beasley said. "I think they talk about it more at home."
Contact Rebecca LaFlure at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548.