CCHS students step up for Chick-fil-A Leader Academy

Cove Leader-Press

Thirty students stayed after school on Monday to learn about the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy at Copperas Cove High School. 
This is the second year that CCHS is participating in the Leader Academy program, which is aimed at developing leadership skills in teenagers while also focusing on community service. Each program is fully-funded through sponsorships from local Chick-fil-A operators, Chick-fil-A Inc. and Coca-Cola to cover the annual $4,000 per school tuition. As of this year, there are between 600 and 700 schools nationwide involved with the Leader Academy, according to Stephen Kennedy, the owner and operator of the Copperas Cove Chick-fil-A location. 
The program first started when Chick-fil-A partnered with an organization called Addo as a way to provide leadership content to the next generation of leaders, the high school students, Kennedy said. 
The theme of the program is “Impact Through Action”, which involves trying to get students to see leadership as something that is done, not just talked about, he said. 
“We were always looking for ways to try to establish some way to be able to develop leaders,” Kennedy said. 
When this opportunity was presented to Kennedy, he considered it a no-brainer to join in, he added. 
Also present from Chick-fil-A was Courtney Tillman, the marketing director for the Copperas Cove location. She said that this year is the first time she’s been able to be involved and hopes to learn from it as well. 
“One day I hope to be an operator and so seeing how I can, too, be able to put these kinds of things into action to develop people,” Tillman said. 
CCHS math teacher Donna Brewer came on board again this year and said that she believes in the program. 
“The more that I talked to the administrator that was talking to me about it, the more I think that these kids don’t realize what they can do, and that to step up and really make an impact is something that they could do,” Brewer said. “I don’t think they knew they could.”
The meeting started at 4 p.m. in Brewer’s classroom, with students from all grades enjoying chicken sandwiches and chips and tea before they began the activity portion of the evening. Only 30 students were selected and of the 30 this year, very few were actually in any of Brewer’s class, with most having heard about the program through the school announcements, according to Brewer.  
As the students watched a video explaining what the Leader Academy was, they also learned about previous projects done at other schools.  After the videos and activities, the students were divided up into scoopers, counters, sealers and baggers to put together nearly 100 bags of dry ingredients that would be donated to the Central Texas Food Bank. 
Sophomore Michael Amaya was a bagger and said he enjoyed that part of the meeting. 
He explained that his uncle lived near where Hurricane Harvey hit in August and that he went down to help his uncle rescue people. He said that anything can make a difference and that he knows the bags of dry ingredients will make a difference. 
He said that his goal in life is to make a difference in his community and in the world, which is why he likes the program.
“It’s a great first step to becoming an even better leader,” Amaya said. 

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