85th CA Bde partners with Killeen school
December 2, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas - Fort Hood's newest brigade is now also the newest official member of the Adopt-a-School program. Soldiers from the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade joined students at the Career and Technical Education facility Nov. 28 to unveil the new sign designating the partnership between the unit and the school.
Debbie Thompson, the executive director for Career and Technical Education, said although the sign went on display Nov. 28, the partnership between the two groups has been in full swing since the beginning of the school year.
"For our Sept. 11 ceremony they came, and that was one of the first things we did together," Thompson said. "They stood together, shoulder to shoulder and Soldier to Soldier under the flag, and it was very impressive."
Since September, the Soldiers have been ever-present at the school, meeting the students and helping them with practical labs during class.
Elizabeth Harmon, 17, a student in the Certified Nurse Aide program, was one student who benefitted from the partnership during a recent class when she practiced shaving the face of a Soldier in the brigade.
"It was to practice our shaving skills. Part of our test includes shaving," Harmon said.
Thompson said the many different career paths at the CATE make it a good fit for the CA brigade, whose Soldiers are expected to perform a variety of different tasks as part of their jobs.
"We already have reaped the benefits of the cooperation between us, and it is not just a sign," she said. "They're here on a regular basis, interacting with our kids and helping them with their job skills."
Colonel Leo Ruth II, the 85th CA Bde. commander, said the Soldiers of the unit are happy to volunteer at the school.
"It's an honor and a privilege for us to come here and work with you guys," he told the students before the sign unveiling. "We're proud, and we see it as a privilege to work with you and to see you go above and beyond your normal high school duties."
More than 440 students from four Killeen Independent School District high schools attend programs at CATE. The programs range from cosmetology and welding to nurse aide programs. Thompson said each program culminates with a certification process, where the students are licensed to perform their chosen careers.
One student in the CNA program, Tasialiana Carter, 17, said she was excited about the partnership and happy to see Soldiers at the school.
"I appreciate it," Carter said. "Sometimes I feel like we're not noticed here, and this is a big job. We want to save people's lives. So the fact that they come out here and speak to us is great. They take the time and support us."
She said while the students at the CATE are taking a hands-on approach to learning, the 85th CA Bde. Soldiers are taking a hands-on approach to mentoring.
"They always have a conversation and talk with us," Carter added. "It's one thing to just come here and stand there and be quiet, but they're not like that. I love that the Soldiers support us."
Ruth said the partnership will continue to grow and expand, especially with big changes in store for the CATE. A new facility will open for the students next school year.
"This partnership will continue and grow once we move to the new facility," Ruth said. "We're really pleased to be part of this. It just gives us an opportunity to positively impact the lives of young people and give back to the community that has embraced the military."
Thompson said she sees a bright future ahead for the CATE students and the unit's Soldiers.
"One of the reasons this is such a good partnership is that we receive from the unit, but we want the unit to receive from us as well. It's a two-way thing. We certainly want the Soldiers here helping us, but we also want to contribute."