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Lone Star Leaders

Teacher and student standing next to each other. The student is holding a certificate.Look across Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD elementary schools and pinpoint student leaders, and you’ll find you’re pointing to a lot of fifth graders. That makes sense. Fifth is the highest elementary grade in EMS ISD before students move on to middle school. 

But when your finger lands on James Watson at Willow Creek Elementary School, you’ll quickly notice that his leadership skills are more polished, more refined. Watson was one of seven EMS ISD students to attend the 2023 Lone Star Leadership Academy.  

“When I first got there, I didn’t know anyone, but I loosened up from my shyness and was able to meet people from all around Texas. That was really cool,” Watson said.  

The type of leadership skills learned through the academy, presented by Education in Action, are the traits corporations pay for their employees to learn in training and seminars. They are the type of leadership skills human resource departments look for when hiring. Watson began learning them after his fourth-grade year, because Willow Creek PE coach Kristi Baker already saw his leadership potential.  

She nominated Watson to attend the academy, where students are admitted based on demonstrated leadership ability, academic success and involvement in school and community activities. 

Watson was one of only 844 students in Texas admitted in 2023. 

“The Lone Star Leadership Academy helps students enhance communication and build their leadership skills,” Baker explained. “We want them to take these experiences back with them to their communities and eventually when they go into high school. It helps to not only break them out of their shells, but also to prepare them with things like research for projects in the future.” 

During the weeklong, overnight camps, the students develop leadership skills while learning about Texas. Participants experience what they are learning about in school through visits to notable and historically significant Texas sites, including the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, Perot Museum, and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. In addition, professionals at the sites visited introduced students to a wide variety of unique careers. 

“Each of the places we travel to have specialists that help students enhance their communication and build leadership skills in a variety of different ways,” Coach Baker explained. “We want them to take the things that they learn back with them. It helps to not only break them out of their shells, but also to prepare them with things like research for projects in the future.” 

Having now completed one session, Watson has the opportunity to complete another, after which he has the option to become a youth facilitator and mentor to younger students going through the program.  

“I learned that being a leader isn’t just about getting good grades,” Watson said, “It’s about helping others with teamwork, communication, inclusion and other things, too. I think this will really help me in the future.”  

We are #EMSproud of James Watson and all the EMS ISD students who attended the 2023 Lone Star Leadership Academy. 


2023 EMS ISD Lone Star Leadership Academy Participants (Grade Level from the 2022-2023 School Year) 

Chisholm Ridge Elementary School 
Zain Khan, 5th Grade 

Dozier Elementary School 
Jaxon DeLeon, 5th Grade 

High Country Elementary School 
Emma Calderon, 5th Grade 
Riley Johnson, 5th Grade 

Prairie Vista Middle School 
Anson Rapp, 7th Grade 

Wayside Middle School 
Hudson Hartley, 6th Grade 

Willow Creek Elementary School 
James Watson, 4th Grade