November Student Leader nominees steer younger students in right direction

Michael D. Smith

Editor's note: The Patriot Ardmore Student Leader program recognizes high school seniors, nominated by their high school administrative staff, that demonstrate integrity and leadership in school and extracurricular organizations while upholding high standards at the academic level. Each month two student leaders are named, and at the end of the school year the monthly student leaders will vie for the Student Leader of the Year title and a new car provided by Patriot Ardmore.

It’s easy for younger students to look up to the wrong people for guidance, but the pair selected as November nominees for the Student Leader of the Year Award regularly go out of their way to help steer future teenagers in the right direction. Whether in the classrooms at school or church, area high school seniors Aaron Alvarez and Madi McComber each use their own experiences to give younger students a heads up in life.

At Ardmore High School, Alvarez has his eyes set on a career in aviation that begins with a military education. The senior said he recently secured a nomination from his U.S. House representative and has since applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Naval Academy.

“So I’ve done the application for both Air Force and Navy to give myself the best shot and the best chance to fly for the military,” he said.

Moving from Michigan to Oklahoma while still in middle school, Alvarez said he comes from a family filled with military service members but thinks he could be the first to become an officer. Even if a military academy does not pan out, Alvarez still plans on getting a degree in aeronautical engineering.

His academic record makes him a serious contender for admission, however, considering his membership with the National Honors Society and regular appearance on the Superintendent’s Honor Roll. With a 4.0 GPA, Alvarez has also been named a Blue Ribbon Scholar and Lion’s Club Student of the Month.

The senior has dedicated plenty of time to band and athletics, but Alvarez has made major impacts thanks to service projects through his church. As a member of the First United Methodist Church, he said a memorable project consisted of a week’s worth of working on home projects during the day and spending night’s at the church with fellow volunteers.

Even if his church is not taking part in a large project, Alvarez tries to guide younger parishioners on a regular basis. He said Wednesdays are often spent with middle school-aged students at church. 

“I would help lead their small group, help lead games, and … be an example for them as a high schooler,” he said.

 He also enjoys spending time with his dad volunteering at the soup kitchen. “Since I was a small kid, I was brought up that whatever you can do to help others, you should do it,” he said.

This attitude has carried over onto the Ardmore High School campus as well. “He is a young man of Character; He leads by example; He is a great role model; and a tribute to Ardmore City Schools,” read his nomination.

At Lone Grove High School, McComber said she uses her role as a cheerleader to help schoolmates have a positive school experience. She said sports like football and basketball are exciting ways to connect with members of the community.

“I just love people being involved,” she said.

Her involvement with other students has not gone unnoticed by Lone Grove administration, either. “Madi makes signs for the hallways and always participates, showing her peers how they can be involved and supportive of school events,” read her nomination.

For the past two years, McComber has been an All-Ardmoreite cheerleader and she said much of her time before the pandemic was spent as a volunteer teacher at her regular dance studio. 

“I just love being around kids and being able to teach younger kids a sport that I’ve loved for a majority of my life,” she said

McComber said she is equally passionate about her student council. Now serving as the council’s president, she said community service projects with the Regional Food Bank of OKC have been some of the most fulfilling. She has also donated time to the senior citizens’ center, blood drives and the Ardmore Animal Shelter.

She is also a member of FCCLA and the National Honors Society with a 3.76 GPA. Her senior year consists of classes through Murray State College and McComber said she hopes to attend the University of Central Oklahoma after graduating high school. She expects to pursue a law degree and hopes to work as a criminal justice lawyer.

Because for McComber, the community service doesn’t always have to end when a career begins. “It’s helped me to want to help people,” she said.