Copperas Cove's Clements/Parsons Elementary named Student 2 Student Team of the Year

Campus among 3 elementary school finalists nationwide

By BRITTANY FHOLER
Cove Leader-Press

A group of four students and four faculty from Clements/Parsons Elementary’s Student 2 Student program waited with bated breath, noise makers and silly string as the winning elementary school team was named Wednesday afternoon.
As soon as Clements/Parsons was named, the sounds of excitement and joy overtook the kindergarten classroom that the group was set up in, and some of the silly string even ended up on the ceiling. 
The campus had been notified earlier that it was one of three finalists for the Military Child Education Coalition’s Elementary School Team of the Year. 
The MCEC was founded in 1998 in Harker Heights, and its reach spans the globe, delivering programs, services, and professional development to meet the needs of military-connected students, parents, and professionals. One of the programs are the Student 2 Student programs available for elementary, middle and high school. 
The winning schools for each level were announced via Zoom Wednesday afternoon after the organization’s training seminar. 
The top three finalists for Elementary School Team of the Year included Whiteman Elementary School, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (Knob Noster Public Schools), Clements/Parsons Elementary, Copperas Cove, Texas (Copperas Cove ISD) and Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (District 49). 
There are currently 534 Student 2 Student programs across the world, including in 34 states in the U.S. and 12 countries, according to the MCEC website. 
During Wednesday’s announcement, students also heard from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who praised the resiliency of military-connected students. 
She shared the story of a student who was in a Student 2 Student program who had lived on military bases around the world who was able to make friends thanks to sports transcending the language barrier. 
“I hear stories like that so often of military connected kids who use their kindness, cleverness and strength to push through hard times and make friends, excel at school and give back to their communities. Military kids like you serve and sacrifice, and you inspire us all,” Biden said. 
Biden also praised the efforts of the educators and the families who are raising such strong children. 
“As we go back to school, students of all backgrounds will have to adapt and adjust after a year of instability and isolation, and we need to voices and leadership of our military connected students now more than ever, because you already know how to be resilient, how to overcome obstacles and create meaningful connections,” Biden said. “I know that your future is bright, and I can’t wait to hear more about the wonderful thing you do this year.”
Lilah Head, 9, will be going into fourth grade at Clements/Parsons next month. She was one of four students from the campus’ Student 2 Student group who had the opportunity to sit and watch First Lady Dr. Jill Biden via Zoom share a message of encouragement and find out the winning schools for the MSEC Teams of the Year. 
 Lilah said it was exciting and fun getting to find out that her school won. 
The 2020-2021 school year was the first year that Clements/Parsons had a Student 2 Student program, but they wasted no time in making a difference on campus. 
The group showed new students around the school, held food drives, celebrated Veterans Day, honored the school board members and even made goody bags for students taking the STAAR tests. 
Lilah said she joined the S2S because she wanted to help people a lot. 
At Clements/Parsons, there are between 48 to 50 students in the Student 2 Student program, spanning each grade level. 
Audrey Trahan is a counselor at Clements/Parsons and oversees the Student 2 Student program on campus. She said it was so exciting that the campus won best elementary school team. 
“It’s a student led program, so the kids are the ones that came up with ideas,” Trahan said. “We had an online form in Schoology, and the kids would write down suggestions that they want to do to help welcome new students and then facilitate that by giving tours or doing different things that they suggested, give them welcome bags and things like that. They’re the brains. We’re just the facilitators to help make it happen.”
To be a part of Student 2 Student, students have to be nominated by their teacher and have to maintain good grades, with no discipline referrals, according to Trahan.
“We work hard every single day to make sure student needs are met and that’s really what S2S is about, but it sure is nice to be recognized for that and have our students be recognized,” said CCISD Communications Director Wendy Sledd. “What they experienced today is something most adults will not experience in their lifetime-to talk to a First Lady of the United States. So, whether they won or not today was not really the issue. It was the fact that they were being recognized for their efforts. We have a zero tolerance on bullying in CCISD and S2S helps us meet that goal, and so these kids are instrumental in practicing kindness and demonstrating kindness and making sure the students, when they arrive, feel welcome, whether military or not, in CCISD.” 

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