Four of the nearly 48 students of the Student 2 Student program at Clements/Parsons Elementary School cheered, blew horns, clanged bells and sprayed Silly String when they found out they had won a national award Wednesday afternoon.
The students won the Military Child Education Coalition’s annual Elementary Student 2 Student Team of the Year Award.
“Man, what an honor. Those kids were juiced, weren’t they?” Superintendent Joe Burns said, who was in attendance to witness their reaction to the announcement. “They were excited about that.”
One of the students that was part of the program and who was on hand to witness the announcement was soon-to-be fifth grader Ajiyah Ruffin.
“That was really cool, even though I had Silly String all in my mouth and hair, but it was fun,” Ruffin said.
Burns said to his recollection, this was the first major award the district has won for its S2S program.
“You know, it’s a lot of effort that goes into that,” Burns said. “I think that the recognition for the effort that the students put forth ... sponsors certainly are integral to the success, but it really works with kids — that’s where the connection has to take place, so we’re very fortunate we got great kids across our district, but especially here at CPE, and we’re very proud of them for winning this award.”
As part of the S2S program, the students would give tours to new students throughout the year and make them feel welcome in a new place.
Audrey Trahan, a counselor at the school and the lead representative of the S2S program, said she saw and heard kids conversing about video games or other interests outside of school as they were giving the tours.
Each class teacher from second through fifth grade nominated one boy and one girl to be the S2S representative of the class.
Each student has to maintain passing grades and have no disciplinary office referrals.
“It really gave that kid an instant friend in that classroom,” Trahan said. “Being the same gender, it also helps that kid feel welcomed as well.”
Trahan said she started to notice a change in some of the students, both with the program and the ones coming into the school.
“By the end of the year, our shy kids were very more outgoing because they had to give tours, they had to step out of their comfort zone, they became more leaders, and that’s exciting to see that growth.”
Ruffin said it was her mother that got her into the program.
“My mom put me in it because she thought it would be better for me for bettering myself and bettering other kids,” Ruffin said.
“I feel like I’ve made better decisions,” she said. “It’s actually a privilege to be in S2S, so I feel like I bettered myself and bettered other people, and I’ve changed my actions.”
Ruffin said that during her time in S2S, she has made some good friendships with new students.
Blake Maxwell, one of the assistant principals at Clements/Parsons, said he was honored to see the students experience the excitement of winning the award.
“I see these kids do so much, just in everything that they do,” Maxwell said. “So to watch how excited they were just is a thrill for me.”
Maxwell said it means a lot to the school to be the winner of such an award.
“You know, this is something that’s definitely coordinated through us, but our students take such pride in it, and they’re very proud of the work that they do with integrating and helping other students,” Maxwell said.
He said he thinks that although the students who witnessed the announcement were a small sampling of the amount of students in the program, he thinks the rest of the students will be “stoked” to find out they won the award when they come back to school in the fall.