HARKER HEIGHTS — A sea of camouflage filled the Harker Heights Elementary School library Wednesday morning as about 40 soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment gathered for an Adopt-A-School orientation with Principal Carolyn Dugger.

All schools in the Killeen school district have an adopted unit from Fort Hood, KISD representative Todd Martin said. Dugger likes to address the soldiers early in the year to thank them for their support and let them know how important their involvement is to the kids.

“Why are you here?” Dugger asked the soldiers. “I need you to show my children a better world. Most of my children are third- or fourth-generation Harker Heights. They have not seen a better world than greater downtown Harker Heights. You show them the world.”

Soldiers from the unit visit the school every Tuesday and Thursday to get to know the students and help them with their schoolwork. Through their mentoring, the students learn about academics, relationships and good character, Dugger said.

“You take time to come help them — read, do math, write — but it’s just one person touching them and saying, ‘You can do it.’”

Dugger believes the program also helps young soldiers who are still trying to find their way through life.

“Some of you are 18, 19, 20, 21 years old … what are you going to do when you fully grow up?” she said. “You are going to rise by helping these young children.”

Staff Sgt. James Dwyer, standing in the back of the crowded library, said he has three soldiers who volunteer with the Adopt-A-School program. He personally has not volunteered in the schools, but he recognizes the value of the Adopt-A-School program.

“My wife is a middle-school teacher and I see what her unit does for her,” he said. “It’s a good program, it really helps out, especially in this Killeen-Harker Heights area.”

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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