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s the school year winds in a service project of their choosing. down, many students look forward to the “It’s a lot of work,” Sophia says. “You have to lazy days of summer. But Sophia Deras, a be committed.” sophomore at Carroll High School, will spend Sophia is in her third year of participating in her summer helping younger kids develop service projects through the council. Her first leadership skills. year, she was part of a 30-student group that Sophia will be working as a facilitator at collected 2,200 books for school libraries in West a Lone Star Leadership Academy summer that were damaged in the 2013 fertilizer plant camp. The camps are operated by Keller-based explosion. nonprofit Education in Action and serve Texas Last year, she launched her own project, fourth- through eighth-graders throughout the collecting food and donations for Northwest summer. Independent School District’s Snack Sacks Students are nominated by their schools program, which supplies packs filled with to participate in the weeklong camps, which child-friendly, nonperishable food to students are held in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin-San who might otherwise go hungry. Antonio and Sophia’s effort “IT’S A LOT OF WORK. YOU HAVE TO BE COMMITTED.” — SOPHIA DERAS Houstoneventually Galveston areas. yielded 1,111 food The kids develop leadership skills items, enough to fill 250 Snack Sacks. while exploring careers and touring This year, she continued the project notable Texas sites. but changed her tactics a bit. Sophia first participated the “I did less leaving boxes out for summer after fifth grade and remains donations and more talking to active in the organization’s alumni people,” she says. “We ended up council. “I really liked it and didn’t collecting about 600 food items and want it to end,” she says. getting $300 in cash. We also went Monica Hayes, outreach director for quality of the items over quantity for Education in Action, says 341 to be able to have more variety. We Carroll Independent School District ended up getting 218 bags of food students have participated in the and collected over a thousand items. camps since they started in 2002. This “Both years, we’ve personally summer’s edition is projected delivered the bags and got to meet to draw 1,250 students from across the school counselors. They were the state. very thankful,” she says. Each day of the camps, they talk Sophia says she will likely continue about a different leadership skill, the project next year. Meanwhile, Hayes says. Then the program she’s looking forward to going to encourages students to look for the camps with younger kids this ways they can put those skills to summer as a youth facilitator. use in their families, schools and She likes that each camp has a community. different flavor. “The Austin-San “We’ve had teachers tell us they Antonio camp is focused on history, see a difference in students when DFW is on the arts and Houston is on they return to school,” she says. “For science,” she says. “You get to spend example, they run for student council the night at an observatory and see and they wouldn’t have considered the stars, and go out on a boat, and doing that before.” they put a net down in the water and About 10 percent of participants pull up things from the Gulf.” remain active in the organization For more information on the Lone throughout the year by serving on the Star Leadership Academy summer alumni council. To qualify, students camps and related programs, go to Sophia collects mass quantities of food items, top, to create Snack Sacks, above, for a program that helps feed kids. have to lead at least two other people educationinaction.org. 76092magazine.com

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