Jimmy Pogue has led the Cooper High School Student Council for 29 years. In those nearly three decades of service to CHS students and the community, he’s come up with a list of students who have made the most impact on the school’s student-service organization, calling them his “Hall-of-Famers.”

Cooper senior Helena Bridge – in only two years on the Student Council – has worked her way into that select group, earning the distinction because of her dedication to the group and her work ethic.

“First and foremost, Helena is kind,” Pogue said. “Second, she’s not going to be outworked in any situation. She leads without thinking about it, and others follow her example because she’s so involved. I will miss her tremendously next year, but I’m thankful for all she has done for this group.”

Thankful, for sure, because he almost missed out on his future Hall-of-Famer because of COVID.

Bridge ran for Student Council office as a freshman during the 2019-20 school year, but then the global pandemic shut down schools. With no election, Pogue chose students to serve on the Student Council in 2020-21. Fortunately for him, she ran for selection each of the following two years and easily won her spot on the council.

“I have loved every minute of being involved in Student Council and serving this campus and our community through the Table 20 initiative, working at the food bank, and going on our trip to Chinle, Arizona,” Bridge said. “I hoped to have spent the last three years on Student Council, but I didn’t get picked in 2019-20 for the next school year. That’s OK … I just ran again.”

And she’s made the most of her time in those two years, finding ways to serve and making friends she might have never made had she not joined the group.

“Without the Student Council, I don’t think I would be as involved at Cooper,” said Bridge, who has played No. 1 singles in tennis for the last three years and was part of the No. 1 doubles team that reached the regional tournament this season. “I’ve put so much into this group, sacrificed a lot of time at work, and gotten into some trouble at work for spending that time, but it’s been worth it.”

Over the last two decades, anyone involved in the Cooper Student Council has probably made one of the group’s annual trips to the Indian reservation in Chinle, Arizona, to serve the native population. And while that trip was memorable for Bridge, she said she enjoys the local work as much or more.

“I have loved the trips to Chinle, but I believe I like helping in Abilene more,” she said. “I like making an impact on the people in our community. Last summer’s food drive was incredible, and I felt like I was making an impact here. I enjoyed meeting the older people who came by the food bank, helping them carry groceries to their cars, and conversing with them, even briefly.

“Chinle was a different experience for me,” Bridge said. “I think the people made as much of an impact on us as we did on them. They change the way you view things if you go with an open mind. They’re so giving, no matter how little they might have. My e-pal – who doesn’t have much– gave me the other half of a best friend’s necklace earlier this year, and it was so great that she remembered me and was excited to see me. Being in that community and seeing those people – even if only for a few days – changes how you view things.”

Bridge, currently ranked 19th in the Cooper graduating class, has also been part of community service through her church and Young Life. And she plans to continue her community service work next year in Lubbock when she enrolls at Texas Tech University, where she plans to study business marketing with a plan to become a realtor and open her own brokerage house.

“I want to make an impact everywhere I go,” Bridge said. “I’ll join as many community service groups as possible and try to give back as much to my community as it’s given to me.”