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Conference prepares students for seventh grade (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
June 10, 2014 at 1:10 a.m.
Updated June 11, 2014 at 1:11 a.m.

Joseph Truman, 12, of Victoria, scoops beans from one container to another at the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent in Victoria. Truman is a part of the 2014 Youth Leadership Conference. "I think it's good we are helping others," he said.

Allan Martinez wore a blue bandana around his head as he walked around the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent on Tuesday morning.

Allan, 12, searched for his team members with matching bandanas and yellow shirts as part of his second day at the 10th annual Youth Leadership Conference.

"I saw a video about it at school and thought it looked fun," said Allan, a Stroman Middle School student.

The weeklong conference was aimed at gearing about 90 students with the leadership skills they'll need in the fall, said event co-organizer Pete McNally.

The group of about 100 students was made up of incoming seventh-graders and former conference members who returned to act as team leaders.

Allan, who is a part of the Community in Schools program at Stroman, was referred to the conference by CIS site coordinator Espiridion "Speedy" Castillo.

"For leadership purposes, we're hoping they will develop those students into potential leaders," Castillo said. "Allan has been in our room several times, and he wants to be helpful, but he doesn't know how yet."

The event was sponsored by Pioneer Natural Resources, McNally said.

"It's a really great experience for the kids to learn some new leadership skills," said McNally, who is also the executive director of the Victoria Business and Education Coalition.

Jennie Martinez, Allan's mother, said her son has always been a good role model to his younger sister.

"He's my role model, to be honest," Martinez, 31, said. "He's strong and doesn't let anything phase him."

Allan has his sights set on becoming a team leader for next summer's program, his mother said.

"If he's able to show enough improvement, he'll become a future leader," Martinez said.

In between the storage shelves at the food bank, Yoakum High School ninth-grader Marshall Fowler was packing food with other conference members.

This was his third year in the program, Marshall said.

"I joined because I felt like our campus needed better leaders among the students," Marshall said. "It's been a really great experience for me."

Another group of students spent the morning volunteering at the Children's Discovery Museum of the Golden Crescent.

"We're trying to reach out to students from all different types of socioeconomic groups from the Crossroads area," McNally said. "We want to make sure we include a cross section from the entire community."



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