By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – No more than 100 yards away from the building that served as Meadows Elementary School from 1953 to 2007, a new school building was dedicated Sunday in memory of Lt. Col. Benjamin Earl Meadows.
"I do hope our time here honors his memory," Meadows Principal Karol Carlisle said. "Our former Meadows building served generations of military families ... this new building will no doubt serve many more generations."
The Killeen Independent School District hosted a re-dedication ceremony for Meadows Elementary the day before students will be using its classrooms.
Meadows was an engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of the Engineers and designed the early structure of Fort Hood. He also served on the Fort Hood Independent School District board before it merged with KISD.
Staff, faculty, school board members, congressmen, and Meadows' family members were all in attendance Sunday.
"It is a wonderful thing," said Diana Maltony, Lt. Col. Meadows's daughter. "I wouldn't have missed this for the world."
Maltony attended the first dedication ceremony when she was 13, after her father's death in an airplane crash in 1951. Holding back tears, she said she could not remember much about that day in 1953 but did recall that it was wonderful.
Meadows was also represented by his son, Hal Meadows, and brother, Ben Meadows.
"It is a beautiful building and a beautiful thought," said Ben Meadows, Lt. Col. Meadows's brother. "He would be proud of this school."
Congressman John Carter, of the 31st U.S. congressional district, spoke during the dedication about how important schools are to the community, and how important the education of children is to the future of the United States.
"We are counting this institution ... to take care of our most precious asset, an asset we are turning this whole experiment over to, the next generation of students at elementary school," Carter said.
Carter also said he was proud to see a military community like Fort Hood have such a turnout for a dedication ceremony for a school.
"I am not surprised to see this community turn out with a number like this, because that is who you are; we should expect it," Carter said.
Jim Hawkins, KISD system superintendent, introduced guests and thanked everyone who was a part of the new building's construction, former students and those who have served in education.
"Today is a time of community and celebration, the reason we exist is because of children," Hawkins said.
Faculty and staff such as Carlos Quinones, a Meadows Elementary physical education teacher, said they would miss the old Meadows because of the memories associated with it, but were excited to be in the new building.
"I miss the old Meadows because I call it home, but I like the new because the change brings out the best in you," Quinones said.
Quinones attended Meadows in the 70's as a student and has worked at the elementary school for the past ten years.
The new building will help the staff with teaching techniques because of the new equipment, but it will not change the strong performance put forth by students and staff, Carlisle said.
"Sometimes I call it a shell, because the heart and soul are the staff," Carlisle said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554