Ariel Draper looked confidently at the younger students in her audience and spoke with confidence.
She herself was one of those students in the audience this time last year, and now has moved into the position of being a mentor.
Draper, who was selected to attend the elite Lone Star Leadership Academy in 2015, spoke to a group of Hettie Halstead Elementary School students about her experience and encouraged them to take advantage of the leadership opportunity available to them.
The Copperas Cove Junior High School sixth-grader sat on a panel with three students who shared their experiences at the camp with other students and parents who may be interested in attending this year as part of the Lone Star Leadership Information Night.
“It was great (speaking to the students),” Draper said. “I hope they all get the opportunity to go. It was fun for me, so I know it will be fun for them, too.”
Draper was selected for the second year to attend the Lone Star Leadership Academy through Education in Action in Austin/San Antonio from July 31 to Aug. 5. Activities she will participate in include a visit to the LBJ Library and Museum, the Alamo, state Capitol, Texas Supreme Court and other historical sites of significance.
“I hope to learn more about how the government works and about how the laws are made,” the straight-A student said.
There is a cost for the camp, which can make it cost-prohibitive for some students. Draper submitted a video to Education in Action of how the Lone Star Leadership Academy inspired her to serve her community. She received $25 to use toward her tuition for that video.
“Last year, my parents covered the expenses for me to go,” Draper said. “However, this year, my parents are making me work for the money. I clean my uncle’s office space for his business and he pays me weekly. This is teaching me responsibility.”
Texas educators facilitate Lone Star Leadership Academy camps, including leadership groups where Draper and other participants will examine qualities of effective leaders, practice leadership skills and discuss what they learn at the sites visited. Academy participants must be in fourth to eighth grades and maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher.