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    By Todd Martin

    Making Shoemaker High School a welcoming place is such a high priority that the school’s hospitality efforts have drawn national attention.

    A team of three Shoemaker students will present during the Military Child Education Coalition Student 2 Student National Training Seminar in Washington, D.C. this summer.

    Seniors Leilani Amituanai, Dabria Brown and Francis Bautista Aguon join teams from four other high schools across the country to present highlights of their S2S chapter.

    “There are going to be lots of people, important people with S2S from around the world,” said Amituanai, president of the Shoemaker S2S group.

    “We’re excited to go and represent Shoemaker and learn to better our program,” said Brown, the chapter vice president.

    The trio put together a summary of the program’s efforts, highlighting recruiting, leading to their invitation to present at the national conference.

    The students, heading into their senior year, will also take part in training to help them build the school’s S2S group even stronger.

    “This is a talented, smart group of students,” said Shoemaker counselor Yvonne Cox, a chapter sponsor who will accompany the group to D.C. July 30 to Aug. 2.

    Student 2 Student serves as an ambassador for the school. Students give tours for new students and family members and often greet guests at school functions.

    The leadership team members said they would put together a presentation highlighting their strengths and challenges recruiting for their organization. They helped add 44 new S2S members this year.

    The work, Amituanai said, is worthwhile to get to present in the nation’s capital.

    “We’re here in Killeen and we’re going to DC,” she said. “We want to show how big we can make it in Killeen. We want to make a difference. Even in a small place we can do big things.”

    The three students all come from military families and said they relate well to students entering Shoemaker High School for the first time.

    “I like to meet new people,” Aguon said. “We can understand being the new kid and we want everyone to feel comfortable.”

    “It’s fun to get into community together,” Brown said, noting that the group plans community service and mixer events throughout the year.

    “It’s nice knowing that we make an impact on the community,” Amituanai said.

    In January, Science Applications International Corp. Chief Communications Officer Lucy Fitch and a delegation of MCEC leaders visited Shoemaker High School to see the top S2S program up close.

    “It brings reality to what MCEC does,” Fitch said at the time. “It’s important to see it firsthand and to see the excitement they bring.”

    At Shoemaker High, the group grew from about 20 students five years ago to a group of 72 at one point, representing virtually every extra-curricular activity at the high school of 2,218 students.

    The current top two officers of the Shoemaker S2S chapter are also the top two class officers for the senior class of 2018.

    “Their maturity, their focus and their excitement” are what struck Fitch during her tour, she said. “They are already talking about the importance of giving back. They have a sense of community.”

    June 19, 2017