Copperas Cove fifth grader wins Texas Student Hero Award
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Williams/Ledger fifth grader Romella Spitzer is one of 12 students across the state to be named a recipient of the Texas Education Association’s 2021 Student Hero Award for Texas State Board of Education District 14.
Spitzer, who also served as the 2020 Preteen Miss Five Hills, was nominated for her work in organizing the Chocolate Fantasia Art Show event held this February at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, featuring the artwork of 28 CCISD Special Education students and chocolates made by CCISD culinary arts students. Spitzer spent seven months planning the event and used funds from her National Lemonade Day Weekend lemonade stand to purchase the canvasses and supplies for the students to use for their artwork.
The event sold out of tickets, selling more than 200, and netted $1,907 after expenses. Spitzer applied for a grant for additional funds for her goal and received an additional $1,500, bringing her total raised to $3,407 to purchase sensory equipment for the Special Education Department for students with autism or other disabilities to use during the school day.
Spitzer’s older sister has autism and is nonverbal. She used a tablet to communicate when the family lived in Virginia. After moving to Texas, they did not have the tablet for her to use. Spitzer said she wanted to raise money to purchase equipment so that kids in CCISD could have the same opportunity that her sister did.
Spitzer’s brother, Noah, was a recipient of the award in 2019, so she said she was aware of the award but was surprised to find out she had been selected as one of the 12 recipients this year.
“I was so shocked. I didn’t know that I would get it, but I know my hard work truly paid off there,” Spitzer said. “It is really special to me because I know that ordinary people in the fifth grade can get that award, not just a person who has to be in a pageant. They don’t have to be in the pageant to do that, they could do stuff that they really want to do, and they don’t have to do it just because their parents told them. They can do it if they want to.”
Spitzer’s mother, Denise, said she was proud that Spitzer had received the award, joining her brother as a recipient.
“It makes me proud because it shows that they have other people’s hearts at the forefront of their minds,” Denise said. “They believe that everybody is out there that deserves any chance. I’m proud that they look at others, as the same and help them along when they’re down.”
Spitzer thanked the Copperas Cove Five Hill Scholarship for letting CCISD Special Education students “have their artwork shine and their personalities too.” Spitzer also thanked volunteer pageant director Wendy Sledd for giving her the opportunity to show what she can do and allowing her to “shine even brighter” than she usually does.
During the Copperas Cove Independent School District board of trustees meeting Tuesday evening, Spitzer’s achievement was recognized by the district and the board.
“CCISD is very, very fortunate this year,” said Sledd, who is also the CCISD Communications Director. “We know we love our students, but it sure is nice when the state of Texas picks one of our students as one of only  out of more than five million public school students as a Texas Student Hero.”