COPPERAS COVE — Elementary students in Copperas Cove were in for a back-to-school treat on their first day Tuesday. The kids were greeted by a group of encouraging soldiers and teachers offering high-fives, huge smiles and positive energy at Hettie Halstead Elementary.

Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment welcomed the children in front of the school’s entrance. The soldiers opened car doors and helped kids as well as parents carry items into the school. Parents also took the opportunity to get photos with the soldiers in front of a large welcome sign that decorated the lawn.

“It’s really awesome to get an opportunity to get to engage with the people of this community. We want these kids to know we believe in them and support them,” said Spc. Chris Tae, a soldier in the battalion.

Matthew Frazer, 5, found the chance to meet a soldier on his first day exciting. As his mother held his hand to walk in the doors he shouted, “Thank you for your service.”

On the inside the children were greeted with hugs, laughter and the sounds of tambourines as students filed into the cafeteria for breakfast. Principal Billie Diaz said the teachers were feeling a lot of the same excitement as the students with all signs pointing to another great school year.

“We are very excited about this school year. The teachers prepped all summer long and are just really looking forward to the great things that our students can achieve this year,” Diaz said.

Diaz and Copperas Cove ISD Director of Communications Wendy Sledd also explained how activities and programs involving parents, teachers and soldiers encourages students and invests in the community. Those programs include STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education, supply drives and other initiatives.

“Our job is to remove any roadblocks that may be on their road and is keeping them from being successful,” Diaz said.

Students at Killeen ISD schools will start classes on Monday.

Lana Husband started her journalism career as a Unit Pubic Affairs Representative for the 504th MI Company while deployed to Iraq. Now, Lana uses her 10 yrs experience to cover local news in the Central Texas Area focusing on technology and the military.

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