By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS – Students at Eastern Hills Middle School watched President Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday as a means to help prepare them for the TAKS test, among several other projects.

Even though it was a school holiday Tuesday, about 70 students volunteered to come to Eastern Hills to learn, said Charles Guidry, Eastern Hills Middle School assistant principal.

The students spent the day going to various session learning about math, history, science and English to better prepare for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, Guidry said.

"It is a more of a hands-on approach than what they normally get," said Robert Burns, Eastern Hills Middle School curriculum specialist.

During the history session, the students watched Obama's inauguration. At certain points during the televised ceremony such as Obama's swearing-in, the students and the teachers clapped.

"It showed me all the different things that we were going over, and that they are still happening today, so that we know what to expect in the future," said James Freeman, an eighth-grader.

Teachers can talk about history like the inauguration of a U.S. president and students can read about it, said David Lockett, U.S. history teacher. But once students see it, it becomes more concrete.

"Really stop and think about what happened here," Guidry said to the students after the inauguration. "A complete transfer of power with not a shot fired or a drop of blood spilled, happened today."

The inauguration was not the only thing the students learned Tuesday.

In the math session, they built rockets and placed fins on the rockets based on the rockets' circumference and even positioning, said Clyde Kinsey, Eastern Hills Middle School teacher.

The program was part of the Eastern Hills' TAKS Academy that meets every Tuesday and Thursday for about two hours to help students prepare for the test.

But, because of the inauguration, some of the students learned more than just the core educational subjects.

Obama showed James to not always look at the negative side of things and not to be negative against those who disagree with him, he said.

Obama's story prior to becoming president moved some students to do more studying.

"It inspires me to do better in school and academics," Cesar said.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554.

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