Everyone loves a hard-luck story. Ashley Prax, 16, is no exception.

“I guess you could say that I am always rooting for the underdog,” Prax said. “When I see a new student sitting all by themselves in the cafeteria, I am the one that goes and sits with them so they are not alone.”

Autism awareness is a priority on the busy schedule of this high school junior. She was intricately involved in starting the high school’s Autism Walk and Awareness Week.

“Autism hits really close to home. I know a lot of people who have it. I got all the schools involved last year and want to do more. A lot of people participate and the level of awareness exceeded my expectations,” Prax said. “I baby sat and worked with kids that have autism and I don’t like to see them get bullied.”

She is also intricately involved in expanding Rachel’s Challenge, an organization formed by the family of one of the teenagers killed in the Columbine school shootings, to all schools throughout Copperas Cove Independent School District.

“I am really excited to see what we can do this year,” she said. “I do believe that random acts of kindness are important. Little things make your day.”

Prax helped start “High Five Friday” not only in her own school but also the elementary school. She and other classmates greet students entering the school with a “high five” to start off their day on a positive note. Ashley’s mother, Holly Prax, said she is not surprised by her daughter’s compassion. After all, her grandfather is a pastor.

“She spent some time with some of the students who were struggling making friends and she helped them with their social skills. She always seems to gravitate to those kids who need help,” Holly Prax said.

Prax is involved in LINK Crew, an organization that links up new students with a buddy that helps them become acquainted with all that goes with starting a new school.

“My freshman year, I did not get that welcome. Being able to have someone when you are new to the school, especially someone who is a positive role model, ensures a positive experience,” Prax said.

The honor roll student with a 4.2 GPA is the president of the Texas Association of Educators. She will be the spokeswoman for the club at the state convention in January.

“We have really big plans for TAFE. We would like to have one of our members run for state office,” she said. “We want all of our students to know that TAFE is not just for teachers but also for coaches and band directors, anyone involved in education.”

Prax is following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mother is also a teacher.

Prax is also currently part of a new church, Community Church of the Nazarene, being planted in Harker Heights. She also is the manager of the CCHS girls’ soccer team and placed second in the science fair last year.

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