Cove youth are proving to be contributing members to society.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Copperas Cove Independent School District students contributed more than 40,000 hours of service to the community with 36,800 of those given by Copperas Cove High School students.

Cove High 2017 graduate Kelsey Dane, who was named a Central Texas Incredible Kid, accrued more than 1,000 hours of service during her high school career. She received the Copperas Cove Exchange Club Youth of the Quarter award.

When presenting Dane the award, Exchange Club member Lacy Freeman referred to Dane’s extensive volunteer work.

“With her application, she has a stack of pages ... listing all of her community service,” Freeman said. “She is a very impressive young lady.”

Dane will attend the University of Texas at Austin, where she will study pre-pharmacy.

Cove High 2017 graduate Ruth Lautenschlager accrued more than 650 hours of volunteer service during her four years of high school.

“I have witnessed first-hand how being a positive leader can inspire others to work together for a common goal of helping others in need,” Lautenschlager said. “Through my volunteer service, I strive to inspire others, to bring hope and to make a difference in the world by making it a little better than it was before.”

Lautenschlager, who was named the Texas District Exchange Excel Youth of the Year, volunteered through several school organizations such as FFA and student council that did service projects in the community.

Lautenschlager also volunteers at her church where she is active in the youth group assisting with vacation Bible school, mission projects, and special activities. She also volunteered with the Pink Warrior Angels organization to support breast cancer patients and their caregivers.

School district Director of Career and College Readiness Russell Porterfield said volunteer service definitely helps the community, but it also supports students’ college applications.

“Colleges are interested in their students’ ability to show their concern for others and the community,” Porterfield said. “Community service is a way for students demonstrate this commitment.”

Carleigh Ross, who has already amassed more than 1,000 hours of service heading into her senior year at Cove High, was accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as a high school junior.

“Dedicating your time to lending a hand to the community develops character,” Ross said. “I fell in love with how it felt to be appreciated so much for helping out, seeing children and the elderly smile purely because I’ve spent time with them.

“Volunteering also sparks new relationships. Before I knew it, I’d become friends with people from all parts of the community,” she added. “Having spent so many years of my childhood in Copperas Cove, giving back was a chance to support each program and person that supported me, as well as the thousands of others in our community.”

Three of Copperas Cove’s elementary student councils — Hettie Halstead, Williams/Ledger and Clements/Parsons — all qualified as National Honor Councils for completing three major community service projects during the school year.

Both junior high schools also have active National Junior Honor Society chapters and student councils.

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