West's pep rally kicks off school (video)
Aug. 26, 2013 at 3:26 a.m.
Updated Aug. 27, 2013 at 3:27 a.m.
Karina Acosta marched into the gym awash in red, black and silver showing few signs of jitters.
The 18-year-old senior looked smart in her blue Air Force junior ROTC uniform as she carried a flag pole twice her size.
As the bustling crowd fell silent, she and her fellow junior ROTC cadets posted the colors, marking the beginning of the annual "Meet the Warriors" pep rally and the beginning of the school year.
It will be the best one yet, she said.
Acosta participated in community service projects as well as adhered to a rigorous physical fitness routine every Friday for the past three years. Now, she's hoping incoming freshmen follow suit.
It's worth it because it keeps your grades sky high, she said.
"It's way better than holding down a chair," she said, smiling.
Acosta hopes to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Then, she will enlist in the Air Force and travel the world, following in the footsteps of some family members.
That's good news for Master Sgt. John H. Miller.
Miller, who has taught children in junior ROTC for 17 of the 18 years it has existed in the Crossroads area, said only between 8-10 percent enlist after graduation.
But that's not necessarily the point of the program, he said.
The group, which has about 100 members from both West and East high schools, completes on average 1,800 community service hours with charities such as Habitat for Humanity and Christ's Kitchen. Miller's goal is to instill good, wholesome values.
He cares less about the hiccups not always visible to those watching drills or ceremonies, like the posting of the colors.
One student he had in years past fudged on the national anthem, singing one lyric over and over again. She forgot the rest but refused to give up, he said.
"Which says a lot about her character," Miller said, chuckling. "There's nothing wrong with teaching a little patriotism."
Kate Klimist, 17, meanwhile, hustled to get ready before the 7 p.m. event. She just finished volleyball practice, where her coach wanted the team to focus on hitting, blocking, serving and receiving.
"We've been playing together for almost a month now. ... All the kinks (were ironed) out this weekend," when the varsity team won a tournament at Cedar Creek, she said.
Klimist already suspects the Warrior family is larger.
"New kids come in that change the way our school works, but in good ways," she said.
Principal Debbie Crick confirmed there are 1,809 students enrolled this year. That's up from the 1,539 from the 2012-13 school year.
"This is also the first class that started as freshmen," she said. "They are really vested in the Warrior spirit."
Victoria school district Superintendent Robert Jaklich thanked parents for supporting a bond package that helped build facilities like West.
"As I traveled through our 620 square miles of excellence today, everyone asked me, 'Sir, how 'bout them Warriors?'" he said, revving up attendees.