Chicken Express Community Heroes: Fredericksburg's Hunter Metzger and Midland Lee's Paige Low (Oklahoma commit)!

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Ask Fredericksburg High School football coach Lance Moffett to discuss Hunter Metzger’s impact on the school community and you may have to wait a bit before you learn that Metzger is an all-district performer on the field and all-state performer in the classroom with plans to become a fifth-generation veterinarian.

Moffett would rather talk about Metzger’s influence around the community, where he encourages everyone who crosses his path to become their best self. Often without saying much more than hello.

“He is quiet and non-assuming,” Moffett said. “He’s not the guy who’s going to give the Knute Rockne rah-rah halftime speech. He just puts his head down works his [tail] off to be the best at everything he does. That’s the way we’re all supposed to be, and he does it in every aspect of his life.”

“I’m not the most vocal,” Metzger admits. “I’m just trying to put my best foot forward. A lot of it is action-based instead of words. I really like to lead by example. I set really high expectations for myself – that comes from my parents – and I set out to work hard. That pushes me and when others see that, they see the good that they can do as well.”

Metzger’s worked hard around Fredericksburg High School throughout his four years on campus, but he’s been even more active in the community. From the moment his Sunday School class at St. Mary’s Catholic Church learned about the ways it could volunteer, Metzger hasn’t missed an opportunity.

“Taking part in things through my church opened up a lot of opportunities to volunteer,” Metzger said. “I took part in things like ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology and Service) and Lifeteen and participated in those for three or four years. One of the people who introduced me to those pitched it as being a role model. I took that to heart.”

On any given weekend, Metzger can be found around the community. He helps in numerous ways around his church, including volunteering to help with the annual St. Mary’s Turkey Dinner. He’s a mainstay with ACTS and Lifeteen. And should Highway 16 or one of the other roads around town need a clean-up, he’ll meet you on the shoulder to help pick up trash.

He recalls how easy it became to volunteer through ACTS – just a few hours each Sunday for three months that culminated in a weekend retreat. He saw how the community reacted to the good work he and his classmates did.

“You could see a lot of other people were moved by what we did,” Metzger said. “That’s what got me interested to put myself out there and help in other areas.”

Moffett learned early on that Metzger possessed a magnetic personality. Kids – both schoolmates at Fredericksburg and younger children at different schools – are eager to hang out with and follow Metzger’s lead.

“During spring break we put on a youth baseball clinic,” Moffett said. “The players run it and the kids from the community come for the day. All of the kids who came ran to him and wanted to be around him all day.”

Metzger said one of his favorite high school memories will be the day the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes took part in the area’s Special Olympics celebration. To see young students enjoying their success – and celebrating alongside them – touched his heart.

“Last year we were able to volunteer at the Special Olympics,” Metzger said. “It was cool to see everyone associated with our FCA chapter focus on those kids as we put on a whole day for them. When you look back through the pictures on social media, you see them celebrating and us celebrating their success. It was very cool to be a part of and experience.”

MIDLAND LEE'S PAIGE LOW

Three years ago, Paige Low stepped onto Midland Lee’s campus with her eyes wide open. The incoming sophomore wasn’t in awe of her new surroundings, though. Even on that first day, she was looking for ways to help.

“I was just eager to get involved,” Low, now a soon-to-be graduating senior, said. “I wanted to volunteer with other sports and help where the student council needed help.”

So she jumped right in. When opportunities presented themselves, Low signed up. Need someone to visit with and mentor elementary school students? No problem. Who wants to organize the school blood drive? Look no further. Spend a Saturday cleaning up streets in and around the city with Keep Midland Beautiful? She’s in.

“You get to see the before and after,” Low explained about working with Keep Midland Beautiful. “It feels really good that you are able to make the area around the school look better and the community look better.”

Her interest in service blossomed as a ninth-grader, when she first started serving as a Symphony Belle with the Midland Community Theatre. The Belles volunteer at different events that the theatre puts on, and Low saw the difference the hard work she and her fellow volunteers made for the Midland Symphony Guild.

“I really think that motivated me to be a regular part of things that the student council was doing at school,” she said.

Through the council, Low took part in a number of efforts, including volunteering at elementary schools, the school’s Elevate Teacher Workshop and worked at the Midland ISD offices to help with food distribution to families that needed it.

“I know that I’m very fortunate and that there are people who aren’t as fortunate as I have been,” Low said. “To give back and do things for people who don’t have as much is rewarding in itself.”

“I hear from a lot of people who think they work hard,” Midland Lee Athletic Coordinator and football coach Clint Hartman said. “I always tell them to watch her. Your definition of what hard work really is will change.”

Hartman’s watched Low compete – and succeed (she’s the 2019 6A state track champion in both the shot put and discus and a multi-year letterwinner in basketball) – in athletics, but he’s more impressed with her positive attitude and willingness to help wherever she’s needed.

“I’ve never seen Paige Low have a bad day,” Hartman said. “She is always there to help everyone in her life, and she always does it with a smile.”

The day Low’s Midland Lee athletic career came to an end – she suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to basketball season – may not have been her best day or one that was full of smiles, but as she put in the work to recover after her surgery, she saw another way she could help.

She’ll head off to the University of Oklahoma as a member of the track team later this year. When she’s not working on her throwing or volunteering her time wherever it’s needed, she’ll start studying to become a physical therapist.

“Ever since I tore my ACL during basketball season, I’ve been going to physical therapy a lot,” Low said. “I can really see myself doing this. That’s just another way to help people.”

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