By Mollie Miller

Killeen Daily Herald

WEST FORT HOOD The squeals of excited children mingled with the hearty cheers of soldiers Wednesday as students from Montague Village Elem-entary School ran through a tunnel of troops during the inaugural Longhorn Run on West Fort Hood.

The Wednesday morning run was a celebration of the recently re-established Adopt-A-School partnership between the school and the soldiers of the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion.

The Adopt-A-School program, which teams Central Texas schools with Fort Hood units, has hit some road blocks recently because of troop deployments and Army transformation.

While soldiers from the battalion come out once or twice a month to read to the students, the run was the first major event since the partnership was re-established at the beginning of the school year.

We wanted to do something that would get everyone involved and that is hard to do with more than 600 kids and close to 350 soldiers, event coordinator Capt. J.D. Finch said. This had to be big and this seemed to be the best idea.

Part of the battalions monthly Longhorn Activity, the Wednesday morning run focused on building esprit de corps among the soldiers as well as showing support of their adopted school, Finch said.

Typically a day of very hard physical training, this Longhorn Activity was well received by the soldiers because it was a nice change of pace, Finch added.

Everyone was very excited about this because it gave them a breather and an opportunity to show support for the school, he said.

School principal Debra Burch said she is pleased the Adopt-A-School partnership is back on track and excited to be working with the soldiers again.

Some of the childrens parents are deployed and it is extremely comforting for them to have these soldiers to interact with, she said.

Maureen McGinn, a teacher at Montague Village Elementary School, said the run was a great opportunity for the students to interact with people they consider heroes.

They love the soldiers and they talk about them every day, McGinn said of her students. The (soldiers) are part of their families and the (kids) love doing things with them.

Burch said the partnership with the battalion is a two-way street and that she and her team are always ready to support the soldiers whenever they can.

We have invited the soldiers out to join us for our Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 16 and they will be with us this spring at the carnival and sports events, she said. We know we can call them if we need anything and, hopefully, they know they can do the same.

Finch and Burch agree the Wednesday morning run was wildly successful and anticipate the Longhorn Run will become an annual event celebrating their Adopt-A-School partnership.

The kids like interacting with us, Finch said. We will definitely do this again.

Contact Mollie Miller at

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