Carlito Dixon, a Harker Heights High School junior and welding student, and a soldier position a new sign in front of the Killeen Independent School District Career and Technology Education campus on Atkinson Drive in Killeen. The sign designates the campus as the Adopt-A-School partner of the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, a newly formed Fort Hood unit.

By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald

A newly formed civil affairs unit at Fort Hood formalized a growing partnership with the Killeen Independent School District’s Career and Technology Education campus.

KISD welding students, along with teacher John Bridenstine, did most of the work to remove an Adopt-A-School sign and attaching a new one for the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade.

The career preparation campus, which includes programs such as welding, health technology and audiovisual technology, is preparing to move in August to the new KISD Career Center on Stagecoach Road.

The new unit and transitioning high school career campus formed a partnership in September and already have worked together on projects.

Col. Leo Ruth, the brigade’s commander, said his soldiers have sat for shaves and haircuts courtesy of cosmetology students.

Also, audiovisual technology students videotaped company activation ceremonies and prepared DVDs for the unit.

Before and after the sign ceremony at the school, soldiers and teachers discussed ways the unit and school can continue to support one another.

“We get to give back to the community that has embraced us,” said Ruth. “It’s an opportunity to impact young students’ lives.”

The civil affairs unit includes medics and mechanics, as well as human resources officers and other professionals who will have opportunities to interact with high school students preparing for careers.

A group of medics plans to provide CPR training. The unit and the students will likely interface during a holiday craft event, too.

“It’s such an active partnership,” said Debbie Thompson, KISD’s executive director for career and technology education. “We contribute to them and they contribute to us.”

The current career and technology education campus, based at a building on Atkinson Drive in Killeen, is a collection of programs spread throughout the school district.

“It is important for us to build a campus culture here,” said Thompson. “This (ceremony) brings that to life. It gives a sense of being.”

Though class schedules vary, a group of health technology students gathered in front of the school to observe the sign ceremony as welding students from the campus attached it.

“The challenge they face coming here from home campuses makes more impressive what they do here,” said Ruth.

“They are honing skills,” he said, “and will be providing a quality product to an employer when they finish.”