HARKER HEIGHTS — Harker Heights Elementary School commemorated 50 years of educating youngsters in a rousing celebration Wednesday morning in the school’s cafeteria.

Each grade level performed to a packed cafeteria audience composed of parents, teachers and students.

Guests included district Superintendent Robert Muller, Deputy Superintendent John Craft and board members Minerva Trujillo and Marvin Rainwater.

“Today was about the children. We will have a formal celebration in September for the former faculty and students, but today was for the children,” said Principal Carolyn Dugger, who recently completed her 35th year with the Killeen Independent School District. “It’s all about relationships with the past and with the future.”

Decked out in celebratory anniversary T-shirts, the crowd journeyed through the past, watching as students performed song-and-dance routines for each decade the school’s doors have been open since 1964.

From excited kindergartners in party hats performing “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang to eager fifth-graders dancing to Pharrell’s modern hit “Happy,” the entire school was included in the festivities.

Much of Dugger’s presentation focused on technology and the changes these modern advancements brought to the school.

“In the 1980s, we had air conditioning, computers and a coffee machine. Today, we have so much technology, and it makes the world go so much faster,” Dugger said. “The building may have changed. The faces have changed. But the spirit is still the same. Harker Heights is here to stay.”

Still, the overwhelming theme of the celebration was family.

“Not only do we hear from former students; former students are parents, grandparents and teachers at Harker Heights Elementary,” Dugger said.

The 1990s brought a new cafeteria to the elementary school, Dugger said, and the old one became what is now the library. During this time, she served as the assistant principal.

Finally, in 2002, Dugger became the school principal.

“I worried about measuring up,” she said, naming three former principals before her tenure. “But I knew that I had to keep my eye on the children.”

On the first day in her new role, out went the chalkboards and in came white boards. In 2004, the school celebrated its 40th anniversary with a ceremonial tree planting.

The three trees planted signified the three principals who came before Dugger.

On Wednesday, a fourth was added in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary.

Throughout the ceremony, Dugger praised the values and spirit of her students, which has remained consistently high throughout the past 50 years.

“The children are the greatest component of Harker Heights Elementary. They are as bright and beautiful today as they were 50 years ago,” Dugger said.

“Equally beautiful are the teachers

today. … When I became principal, over half the faculty had been there over 25 years.”

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