Back-to-School Surprise

Walmart donated 800 backpacks to Bellaire and Nolan
By: Todd Martin
With the start of a new school year just two weeks away, a pair of state representatives found themselves naturally drawn to the excitement.
State Sen. Dawn Buckingham and State Rep. Brad Buckley, both parents of grown children and both former school board members, joined Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft in the Nolan Middle School cafeteria Monday to unveil a surprise.
After greeting the gathering of teachers and other school staff members and families from the neighborhood around Nolan and nearby Bellaire Elementary School, the state leaders looked to the cafeteria stage and the curtain opened to a mountain of colorful backpacks.
In total, Wal-Mart donated 800 backpacks, $10,000 worth, for students in the two schools.
Family members walked across the stage, chose a backpack for each child and posed for a photo before diving into refreshments.
The surprise announcement followed the first day back to school for most KISD teachers and campus staff. About 3,000 KISD campus staff members returned Monday, bringing the number of school employees over 7,000 now pitching in to prepare for the 2019-2020 school year.
“We all remember as little kids the importance of a new backpack and supplies,” Buckingham said following the official announcement.
“Being a mom and a doctor and a former school board member, it is very important to me for our students to get off to a good start.”
In welcoming the crowd to Nolan, Craft pointed out the district’s commitment to making sure that all students in every neighborhood across the large, growing school district are ready to learn.
He also praised the local legislators’ actions in the recent legislative session that infused significant added resources into public schools.
In Killeen, the effects of community support are visible. Nolan Middle School, opened in 1960 is entering its final year in the middle of the city. A new middle school, also called Nolan, is set to open in the southeast part of the district next year. It will include KISD’s second middle school STEM academy.
Through KISD’s long history, partnerships have always been critical. “We are fortunate to live in such a caring, compassionate community,” said Bellaire Principal Lavonda Loney. She said Buckley, a KISD graduate, has long supported the neighborhood schools.
Walmart is also a consistent supporter, she said, praising Buckley and Buckingham for joining the retailer in assisting schools and students.
Danielle Johnson moved to Killeen two months ago. She picked up backpacks for her four children, about to begin pre-kindergarten, first, third and fifth grade.
“This is a blessing,” Johnson said. “It’s a big help. They have been a little nervous in a new school in a new city. This is a good time of year. It’s exciting.”