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    By Todd Martin

    An elementary school leadership camp is coming full circle this year with students from previous years guiding a new crop of young leaders.

    The annual camp, co-hosted at Skipcha Elementary School and the Stewart C. Meyer Public Library, prepares second- through fifth-graders to serve in school organizations like student council, Student 2 Student and National Junior Honor Society.

    This year, for the first time, incoming eighth- and ninth-graders, mostly alumni of the camp, are doing the primary leading.

    The afternoon portion at the school centers on teambuilding exercises and guest speakers from the community.

    The morning session at the library combines tours of city facilities with service projects focused on preparing for a pirate-themed children’s program for young children.

    “Our goal is to teach about leadership,” said James Gonzalez, an incoming freshmen at Harker Heights High School who has attended the camp at Skipcha for several years.

    “We’re talking about setting goals and staying with it,” he said. “The kids here are fun and entertaining.”

    Many of the students leading the camp attended Skipcha or nearby Mountain View elementary schools and most attend or just completed middle school at Patterson or Union Grove middle school.

    “You walk away with a lot of skills,” said Bailey Parker, who is set to be a freshman at Ellison High School.

    Leadership, she said, is a practical skill to take away from elementary school that helps in working with and communicating to a variety of people.

    She is also a longtime participant in the Skipcha leadership camp as an elementary school camper and as a middle school volunteer. She is now part of the Leadership Academy at Ellison High School.

    “It’s crazy that this camp has grown so much,” Parker said. “They are learning a lot more than I did.”

    Skipcha Principal Carrie Parker said she wanted the camp to sustain itself over time and that students who participated naturally wanted to come back as volunteers and many are now leading it.

    Those students, she said, maintained leadership roles at Skipcha and then in their middle schools and recruited their peers to participate.

    “I like to get the big students to work with the little students because the young ones are so captivated by them,” the principal said. Adults do oversee the activities.

    “They share their excitement and a fresh perspective,” Parker said.

    This week, 27 Skipcha Elementary School students are taking part in the four-day leadership camp with the assistance of eight middle school and high school volunteers.

    Students heard Monday from Harker Heights police officers about the challenges and rewards of protecting the community and the huge leadership responsibilities law enforcement officers assume.

    They toured the police department and animal shelter on Tuesday and worked at the library to prepare for children’s programs later in the week. The schedule also includes a mock court trial.

    “It’s becoming a natural part of what we do,” Parker said of the camp, now in its fourth year. “This is something we provide our students and we’re excited to keep it going.”

    June 13, 2017

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