Bowie starts student leader program

Dec. 18—Encouraging students to take responsibility for their campus, Bowie Middle School health and PE coach T.C. Hughes has recruited morning traffic directors.

On the average, about 13 students turn up to direct traffic during drop-off in the mornings. There have been a variety of benefits so far including students showing up to school on time, taking ownership of their campus and learning about accountability.

"We started a volunteer-based program. They were more than happy, as you see, to come out and lead and take ownership and take accountability for their schooling. So far, it's been a good program, not just to do traffic control, but behind traffic control, teach them, again, accountability, ownership, leadership, confidence, how to speak to adults as well as work with one another," Hughes said.

The student leaders have been conducting traffic direction for close to a month. Other students have tried to join because they see it's a cool thing to do.

"But we have a good rotation system, boys and young ladies are doing it," Hughes said.

He added that next semester he plans to introduce more volunteer based and student led programs to take the campus from being classroom and teacher centered to student centered.

With those responsibilities, they'll get more rewards, Hughes said.

They have only been directing traffic in the morning, so when parents return in the afternoon they wonder where the student leaders are because "they do such a good job at getting the cars in and getting the cars out," he said.

Aaron Cortez, a 13-year-old eighth-grader, said it's good for people to do this because there is usually a lot of traffic and students were getting to school late.

"Since we've been doing this, kids have been arriving here on time and that's good for Bowie. I like it so far with Coach Hughes," Cortez said.

Helping out makes him feel good "because I like the way it's going and I just like it."

Cortez added that it has helped him with responsibility and making him get his work done on time.

Hughes said he thinks people are coming to school on time because it's kind of like a pep rally with the cars coming through. The students like seeing each other, as well.

The parents also love what they see.

"It just makes that early morning spirit a little bit better. That goes not just outside of the school," but inside, Hughes said.

In addition to the student leaders initiative, Hughes said they are going to partner with Keep Odessa Beautiful to bring recycling bins to campus and to do some beautification projects.

One of Hughes' classes is having a Yes We Can Food Drive. Their goal was 365 cans, but they've collected some 900 cans, according to a social media post.

"We've partnered with the West Texas Food Bank and we're feeding families for the holidays. Again, just teaching kids the emotional, social, mental and physical wellness ... and that they can, even now at their age, make a difference in the world not just for tomorrow but today," Hughes said.

Hughes, who is from Dallas, has been with ECISD for two years. He saw a great opportunity here and decided to stay because of things like student leaders.

The idea is to give young people who haven't necessarily had a chance to become leaders.

JoeAngel Mendez, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, said he thinks being part of student leaders is pretty cool.

"It's pretty fun to be part of it," Angel said.

He added that a lot of his friends joined.

"It shows a lot of responsibility and leadership to do this stuff, so I kind of wanted to come in," Angel said.

He added that the program has instilled pride and responsibility for the campus.

Angel said he would recommend that students get involved in their school.

"It does really help," he added.

Hughes said he has been in education for 12 years.

"I started when I was in Dallas actually doing out of school in school programming ... again taking schools or campuses that has such programs as RISE; going in truly helping the kids make over their lives by reintroducing them to how they should think and through that thinking that neuroplasticity-based model of asset education allowed them to reimagine what life is through the lens of education; through the lens of purpose; and again through the lens of leadership. By combining all of those aspects of it, we've been able to make kids better," Hughes said.