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Young Bulldog Ambassadors provide leadership, service at Bertram Elementary

Bulldog Ambassadors at Bertram Elementary

Eight Burnet Elementary School fifth-graders serve in the Bulldog Ambassadors program, working with younger students, helping with special events, monitoring the little library, guiding new students around the school, and much more. The 2021-22 Bulldog Ambassadors are (from left) Alez Aviles, Ryker Kiser, Easton Wampler, Tait Schmidt, Lily Stires, Chloe Shannon, Makayla Coronado, and Carolyn Gilmore. Courtesy photo

The eight Bertram Elementary School Bulldog Ambassadors had just wrapped up a school event but still had a few minutes on their hands. Instead of taking the extra time for themselves, the students picked up trash on the campus playground.

“I didn’t ask them to, I didn’t tell them to. They just decided to do it themselves. That’s the type of kids they are and why they’re such great Bulldog Ambassadors,” said Bertram Elementary School counselor Ann Wyatt. “They really do show ‘Spirit, Pride, Honor.”

The three words are the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District’s motto, and the Bulldog Ambassadors try to live up to that motto in their daily actions and volunteerism around campus.

“I like helping,” said Bulldog Ambassador Chloe Shannon. “I’ve always liked helping, and being (an Ambassador) lets me help here at school, even more.”

Fellow Ambassador Easton Wampler agreed. One of his favorite roles in the program is taking new students on a tour of the campus when they arrive at Bertram Elementary.

“It’s a big school,” he noted. “I can help them find their way around.”

Wyatt started the program three years ago for fifth-graders interested in doing more around the campus and developing their leadership skills. It’s only open to fifth-graders who apply to become Bulldog Ambassadors. They must also get a teacher’s referral. A committee then reviews all of the applicants and selects students as Bulldog Ambassadors.

Due to COVID-19, the program skipped the 2020-21 academic year, but it’s going strong again.

Bertram Elementary School fifth-grader Easton Wampler
Bertram Elementary School fifth-grader Easton Wampler (right) helps in a pre-kindergarten class as part of the Bulldog Ambassadors program, which exemplifies the district motto of Sprit, Pride, Honor. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

“It’s a leadership-based program,” Wyatt said. “I believe in promoting leadership and service, and the students are demonstrating both as Ambassadors. They also have a lot of pride in their school.”

She added that students across the campus help out, but Bulldog Ambassadors take it to another level.

The Ambassadors have a number of tasks each week around campus. Wyatt has a chart outside of her office that shows what’s going on during the week and who’s responsible for them. But the students don’t need to refer to the chart much. 

“They know what they need to do, and they’re always punctual,” Wyatt said. “These kids are amazing. I never have to tell them where they need to be or when they need to be there. They just do it.”

Some of the duties include helping in the prekindergarten classes, assisting new students, working during special events and activities, monitoring the campus little library, and cleaning up around school.

One of Shannon’s favorite roles is working with younger students.

“I really look forward to that,” she said.

So do the younger kids. After Shannon spent a few minutes in one prekindergarten class, several of the children hug her as she got up to leave.

In the prekindergarten class next door, Wampler has the same affect. He’s helping some students in centers — a time the kids work in different areas around the class — and they seek him out. When it’s time for him to leave, they don’t want him to go.

“The younger kids really look forward to them coming,” Wyatt said.

One of the things Wyatt’s noticed among this crew of Ambassadors is how well they collaborate. They often come up with their own ideas on helping around campus and work out the details themselves. It’s one of the things Wyatt sees as a strength of the program: students taking ownership of the program.

“They are always looking for ways to help out,” she said. “Nobody has to tell them what to do because usually they see something that needs to be taken care of, and they do it.”

daniel@thepicayune.com