West Ward to West Point

West Ward alum graduates from West Point
06/11/2019
By: Todd Martin
A Killeen ISD elementary school principal, with her husband and a teacher made the trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to cheer on a former student while wearing T-shirts bearing the message – From West Ward to West Point.
 
West Ward Principal Maureen Adams, her husband Bill Adams, a West Point alum and teacher Julie Sellers attended the ceremony in support of Darnell Anthony Brown, an Ellison High School graduate and former West Ward student.
 
It was a great moment that highlighted a great personal journey.
 
At West Ward Elementary School in north Killeen, a longtime tradition is Space Week, usually scheduled the fourth week of October.
 
Back when Brown was in fifth grade, he and another student got in trouble and Adams meted out the dreaded punishment – no Space Week participation.
 
After a day of In-School Suspension, the principal relented and let the students participate the rest of the week. During that week, Brown spent time with the visiting astronaut, who was intrigued at the double meaning of ISS since he had been on the International Space Station.
 
In addition to being a strong student, Brown showed promise performing and his principal, also a theater buff, motivated him to try out and eventually play a role in the Vive Les Arts production of Our Town. In fact, Adams ended up playing a role in it, too.
 
Once Brown left West Ward, Adams didn’t see him for a while until he got to Ellison, where he continued performing as part of the choir.
 
Ellison Choir Director Amy Triggs recalled an intelligent, kind-hearted student who carried the nickname, “Boogie” because he was always dancing.
 
Ellison Junior ROTC senior instructor Joseph Merlo also remembered Brown, a motivated student determined to go to West Point, though he wasn't officially part of JROTC.
 
At West Ward, Tabitha Perry, began working as a regular substitute teacher and eventually earned a position teaching fourth grade. While getting to know her, Adams was surprised to find out she was Darnell Brown’s mother.
 
Once Brown was accepted to West Point, he went back to West Ward and urged Adams to commit to come see him graduate once he finished. He also wanted his favorite teacher, Julie Sellers, to be sure and come.
 
As it turned out, Brown did his part and so did his elementary school principal and favorite teacher.
 
It was a beautiful day on the stately, historic campus in West Point, New York. The new graduate was a gracious host quick to introduce his teacher and principal from West Ward. “He is truly an officer and a gentleman,” Adams said.
 
“That’s why educators do what we do,” she said. “Watching what he achieved, we could say ‘I helped do that.’ He is finding success in the real world.”

Photos provided by the family of Darnell Anthony Brown
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