Chaparral High School - A Tradition Begins

Chaparral High School celebrated its dedication ceremony
By: Todd Martin
Killeen ISD’s new Chaparral High School is open. The Bobcat tradition begins.
Representatives of federal, state and local governments joined community leaders, school district and campus staff with parents and students Thursday to dedicate the new high school in south Killeen.
As a setting sun peeked through the windows along the high ceiling in the broad, open cafeteria, history unfolded in front of a large audience of curious, excited residents.
“We’re here to dedicate this wonderful institution for learning,” said KISD Superintendent John Craft. “This is truly a momentous occasion.”
Chaparral High School is a historic milestone on several fronts.
It is the largest project from the $426 million bond package that voters approved in May 2018. It is KISD’s sixth high school and its first traditional, comprehensive high school in 22 years.
In a symbolic moment during the dedication, the seven board of trustees received gift bags from students containing some of the first Chaparral Bobcats branded spirit items commemorating the beginning of the school legacy.
Principal Gina Brown pointed out the new school’s link to the current high schools, from the city’s namesake Killeen High School to Ellison High School, which opened in 1978, and Shoemaker and Harker Heights high schools that expanded to four-year schools in 2000. Early College High School opened in 2015.
Board President Brett Williams told staff and students they have one chance to set a precedent that all will follow. “You will set the tone for Bobcat Nation for years to come,” he said. “You will set the benchmark,” he said. “Don’t be shy about setting it high.”
In another powerful moment, the first Chaparral High School choir debuted the school’s alma mater, an original song with lyrics written by sophomores Amari Davis and Angelo Mitchell, II. Chaparral Band Director Bass Deese composed the music for both the alma mater and the school’s fight song.
The band played the fight song at the start of the dedication ceremony. Cheerleaders and TopCat dance team members greeted guests. A combination of students led the audience in the pledges.
In thanking voters, the architecture and construction firms, and the district’s facility services staff, Craft pointed out highlights of the $147 million, 450,000 square-foot school building.
The exterior features locally quarried stone. The interior is accented with the school’s silver, navy, and cardinal colors.
Chaparral High School contains 72 general classrooms, 22 science labs, agriculture, robotics and engineering labs, flexible furniture, numerous computer labs, a 1,200-seat auditorium, band, choir, and orchestra rooms, a black box theater, and set design shop, as well as a special education suite with occupational therapy kitchen.
It also features LED lighting, enhanced safety features, and large, open spaces to accommodate more than 3,000 students.
The campus includes the 4,600-seat Joseph L. Searles, III Stadium, KISD’s second regional stadium, which all five KISD high schools will utilize. A dedication is planned for Aug. 26 when the Bobcats take on the Killeen Kangaroos in a Friday night football matchup.
In just over a week, about 1,700 students will pour into the new high school, bringing it to energetic life. Already, athletes and spirit group members have begun preparing for the fall season. On Tuesday, 175 staff members began preparing to meet their students when school starts on Aug. 15.
“We all know a beautiful facility is just that without a special ingredient,” said Craft, emphasizing the importance of the relationship between parents and the community.
“What is so exciting as we open the doors in just over a week,” he said, “is the relationships and the love that our staff will demonstrate for their students and for one another. That is what will make this place a truly special learning environment and engrain a culture of excellence.”
As the large crowd toured specified areas of the campus, Brown expressed her joy. “I’m so proud of my staff and what our students have already accomplished in a short time,” she said. “It gives me great hope. I’m ready to experience the first of everything.”
Davis, one of the writers of the school song, said it was a great feeling to hear it played for the first time. “It’s hard to believe, but my brain is slowly getting there. It’s amazing,” he said of the new school. “I’m excited to try and find my classes.”
Ioranna Fuentes, a junior and TopCat member who was part of the ceremony said she was ready to start the first year. “I love figuring out what’s next,” she said. “It was beautiful – a great dedication. I think it’s going to be a great year.”