February 14, 2024

Select San Antonio Students Gather for Invitation-Only Leadership Summit: MCEC’s Sixth Annual Student 2 Student Jamboree

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Over 100 middle-, junior- and high-school students from 17 schools across greater San Antonio gathered on February 6, 2024, with a mission: To build leadership skills that would benefit themselves and others as they work to be life- and college-ready.

Invited by the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC) for its Student 2 Student® Summit & Jamboree, the students participated in a special day-long summit assembled by MCEC in partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and the event’s presenting sponsor, H-E-B, through its Operation Appreciation program. Additional event support was provided by the Military-Civilian Charitable Foundation.

The students travelled to the UTSA campus from all over San Antonio, representing many different grades and schools. All shared a common trait: Each of these young people strive to hone their leadership and service skills through participation in their school’s Student 2 Student (S2S™) program.

“Being in Student 2 Student has offered me this great opportunity to meet like-minded people who want to make a change within their community. This starts with making connections and was taught as one of our lessons within the event,” remarked a student from Judson Early College Academy. “I truly enjoyed my time and learned how to pitch myself in a fast-paced environment.”

MCEC is a Texas-born nonprofit that has become a global phenomenon: It is devoted to supporting military- and veteran-connected children facing education challenges related to their parents’ military service, such as the difficulty of being uprooted and moved from school to school. Wherever there are U.S. military families, MCEC is there, too, working to educate, advocate, and collaborate with teachers, school administrators, parents, professionals, and in the case of S2S, both civilian and military-connected students.

Since its launch in 2004, S2S has grown into one of MCEC’s flagship initiatives, with student-led and faculty-advised clubs in schools at all grade levels, all over the world. In the program, both military-connected and civilian students step forward to help “new kids” feel welcome, acclimated to their new environs, and connected to their new school community. This outreach of friendship and empathy makes newcomers feel at home with school tours, welcome packets, lunchroom partners, community service projects, plus other ways to learn the ropes at a new school.

“An S2S club can inspire and unite an entire school campus in a culture of inclusion,” said Dr. Becky Porter, President and CEO of MCEC. “Schools, students, and families benefit from better academic performance and more positive student to student interactions.”

Every S2S club operates with guidance from a teacher or counselor who serves as faculty advisor. The San Antonio region is one of the world’s most prolific S2S communities, with clubs in 118 schools. S2S is structured around six specific Core Values: Leadership, Academics, Service, Climate & Culture, Relationships, and the overarching value of 100% Acceptance – meaning that all students feel welcome and at home in their new schools.

The S2S program celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024, and San Antonio’s S2S Jamboree is now in its sixth year. The Jamboree invites S2S-involved students for their own special day of professional development-style leadership training, career advice, guidance for college admissions and financial aid, mental/social well-being education, and even simple, everyday life hacks to help them master “adulting.”

H-E-B, the San Antonio-based grocery chain known for its winning innovation, customer service and community stewardship, participated as a presenting sponsor through its Operation Appreciation initiative. H-E-B sent a team of executives to engage and participate in the day’s event. They kicked the day off with lively sessions on cultivating a healthy career, led by H-E-B Education & Workforce Program Manager, Katie Chain; Literacy Program Manager, Christa Aldrich; Education Initiatives Program Coordinator, Alyssa Saucedo; and Public Affairs and Operation Appreciation Manager, Johnny Mojica. The team’s sessions included helpful basics like how to network, having a personal “elevator pitch,” and other tips to help the job world seem less intimidating.

“These are great kids. Because these students are in S2S, they already have a mindset of making other students feel comfortable in new situations,” said H-E-B’s Katie Chain. “Our goal for our sessions was to help them feel comfortable, too, as they enter the working world. Confidence and understanding how business relationships function can empower these young peoples’ entire career trajectories.”

Other sessions during the day focused on S2S core values, such as a Leadership and Sustainment presentation by S2S students from Madison and Roosevelt High Schools. A breakout session on Service, Culture & Climate was led by S2S students from Reagan High School, Nimitz Middle School, and Driscoll Middle School, who described inspiring community service initiatives organized by their schools’ S2S groups. For example, an effort at Driscoll Middle School supported Little Amal’s Walk to benefit refugee families; other student-led efforts served causes such as improving recycling at their schools and aid to individuals experiencing homelessness.

UTSA’s Department of Admissions representative shared a wealth of College Readiness Tips that included a look inside the admissions process, with advice on the best strategies for a successful college application. UTSA even shared wisdom on the many “hidden” scholarships that are often overlooked, but there to be won.

The S2S Jamboree concluded with prize drawings plus an inspirational closing keynote by UTSA’s Belinda Saldana Harmon, Director of Community Outreach and Transfer Students, who reminded the students about the potential they have already demonstrated by joining S2S and attending the day’s Jamboree. “The future you want is there for you, but you have to pursue it and work for it,” said Ms. Harmon. “You have the power to achieve your dreams, so never give up on them.”

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The MCEC Student 2 Student® Summit & Jamboree is generously funded by H-E-B, Military-Civilian Charitable Foundation, UTSA, and MCEC. Students or education professionals who would like to learn more about the S2S program can find more information here.

S2S Summit & Jamboree Participating Middle/Junior High Schools

  • Spring Branch Middle School, Comal ISD
  • Cole Middle School, Fort Sam Houston ISD
  • Driscoll Middle School, North East ISD
  • Eisenhower Middle School, North East ISD
  • Krueger Middle School, North East ISD
  • Nimitz Middle School, North East ISD
  • Edward H. White Middle School, North East ISD
  • Randolph Middle School, Randolph Field ISD

S2S Summit & Jamboree Participating High Schools

  • Hill Country College Prep High School, Comal ISD
  • Davenport High School, Comal ISD
  • Pieper High School, Comal ISD
  • Smithson Valley High School, Comal ISD
  • Judson Early College Academy, Judson ISD
  • MacArthur High School, North East ISD
  • Madison High School, North East ISD
  • Reagan High School, North East ISD
  • Roosevelt High School, North East ISD

About the Military Child Education Coalition

MCEC is a 501(c)(3) global nonprofit leadership and advocacy organization. MCEC supports all military-connected children by educating, advocating, and collaborating to resolve education challenges associated with the military lifestyle. Learn more about the national advocacy efforts of MCEC at MilitaryChild.org and on social media at FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

For media inquiries:

Please contact the MCEC Director of Marketing and Brand Creative, Karen Kirk, by email at Karen.Kirk@militarychild.org

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