BELTON — As a shy teenager, Adam Santos was comfortable hiding in the corner. He didn’t want to talk or meet new people. But he stepped out of his comfort zone Saturday with the support of his friends, family and Communities in Schools’ staff during the nonprofit’s annual talent show at the Belton High School Performing Arts Center.

The show featured 24 acts with nearly 70 students of all grades from the Killeen, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Salado, Cameron and Florence school districts.

Santos, a Shoemaker High School sophomore, sang Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up” with Shoemaker senior Eugene Aurelio II.

“I always try to pick a song with meaning,” Aurelio said. “This is my second year, so I chose a song that kind of symbolizes and represents Communities in Schools.”

The nonprofit’s mission is to impact the lives of children in a positive way to help them achieve success through the support and encouragement of their community.

Mary Barr, executive director, said the nonprofit encourages students to focus on their academics and behavior and gives them events, like the talent show, to look forward to.

“We need them to feel successful so (the talent show) is all about letting children be the best that they can be,” she said. “We want them to rejoice in their own talents and understand that’s what life is really about — it’s working hard, doing the best that you can do and reaping the rewards internally, not externally.”

Jesus Garcia, the nonprofit’s site director at Shoemaker, said Communities in Schools is a way to help students with personal issues one-on-one.

“(We’re there if) they want to talk about situations at home or with their friends,” he said. “We try to help them with that.”

Aurelio is thankful for the opportunity to have understanding counselors invested in making sure he stays on the right track.

“It’s just someone else to talk to. (Garcia) is just like another dad,” Aurelio said. “Every time he sees me in the hallway and he sees some kind of look on my face, he always makes sure I’m OK.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.