Chester High senior touts service club's benefits

Padraic Hampton
Padraic Hampton

When Padraic Hampton is governor of South Carolina, he plans to focus on education and change the state's image.

The 17-year-old Chester High School senior could be well on his way.

During his four years at the school, Hampton has earned a reputation as an outstanding student who family and teachers said is bound to be a leader.

Hampton credits his school's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club with amping his ambitions.

The club is part of a national organization with chapters in hundreds of schools. It's open to students who are enrolled in or have taken a family and consumer sciences course. Members take on community service projects such as teacher breakfasts and cancer fundraisers.

Once, Hampton said, the Chester group held a baby shower for foster children.

"We encourage students to grow personally and be concerned about the community and their future," said Phyllis Wright, a family and consumer sciences teacher who taught Hampton and leads the club.

The most important skill Hampton learned as a member?

"Time management," he said. "You have to balance schoolwork with home life."

That's often easier said than done, but Hampton seems to have struck a balance.

In addition to his club duties and maintaining honor student status, he's vice president of FCCLA's South Carolina public relations office. He's a Beta Club member and president of his church's youth missionary group. He also plays trombone and tuba in the school band and takes piano lessons on the side.

"That's just in his nature, to be involved," Wright said. "He's a very intelligent young man. He's very compassionate and caring. He comes up with a lot of good ideas for us to use."

One of those ideas was to collect used CDs and DVDs to donate to a local senior citizen center for residents and patients to enjoy.

"He amazes me every time he does something," said Hampton's mother, Patricia. "At times, he seems to be very bashful, but when it comes time for leadership and getting things moving ... he takes it upon himself to move with it."

Earlier this year, Hampton and other club members sold sweet tea to raise money to go to Florida for the FCCLA's annual National Leadership Meeting.

In Florida, Hampton took the gold medal in what's known as a STAR event, for Students Taking Action with Recognition. His was a competition in which he had to present a lengthy portfolio documenting his career aspirations with essays about his experiences job shadowing, photos of him at work, a resume, cover letter and letters of recommendation.

"The process was very grueling," he said.

Hampton, who wants to teach third grade, is pondering which college to attend. He hopes to get a master's degree and national board certification before entering the classroom for his first time.

After that, he said, he's running for governor.