OHS senior makes Crime Stoppers history

Odessa High School senior Cooper Aranda made a little bit of history recently being named the first student advisor to the Texas Crime Stoppers Council.

Aranda, a 17-year-old senior, was recently sworn in by 70th District Court Judge Denn Whalen. He was joined by friends, family and Crime Stoppers program leaders for the ceremony.

He has been in Crime Stoppers since he was in sixth grade.

Aranda said he got interested in Crime Stoppers after meeting Damon McGilvray, who was the Crockett Middle School officer at the time.

“He told me what the program was about, and I figured I’d give it a shot and then seeing the difference that Crime Stoppers makes in the community,” Aranda said.

“I think what really reeled me in was when I did our first Blue Santa during Christmas time, where we go to Walmart and we buy toys, clothes and shoes for the kids that are in need, or families that are in need, and right before for Christmas break, we go deliver those presents. I think that’s what really got me into it because seeing all those happy faces and seeing the kids so excited when they got a new bike, or some shoes, or a toy that they wanted it was really heartwarming,” he added.

Aranda was chosen as a Crime Stoppers ambassador at the beginning of eighth grade.

“That process entails an interview. Our conference was here in Odessa at the Marriott. You had to fill out a paper with questions — why you should be an ambassador, what Crime Stoppers means to you; different questions like that,” he said.

“Then if you were selected from that paper, then you go for a physical interview on about like the second day of the conference or something like that in the morning. There’s a board of, I think, eight people. They ask you questions …,” Aranda added.

He thinks about 14 applied, but only four were selected to fill the spots of people who were graduating.

“It was really exciting. I didn’t know what to expect they prepare me for like, Hey, you’re young, they might not select you just all depends on how your interview goes, how the selection process goes. It was really surprising when I got it because some people had to try multiple times to get in. That was pretty. It’s pretty surprising, but I was very grateful,” Aranda added.

His new position is student advisor to the state board.

He meets virtually with the board and they discuss budgets and other items.

“… Basically I’m there to voice an opinion on the student level on matters that they need advice on. I’m basically the bridge of communication between the students and the board. That way there’s a clear line of communication there on what the students are asking for, what they need, what their what they think about things that we’ve implemented on our campus; stuff like that,” he said.

Aranda said he’s not sure how often the board meets.

He added that he had no idea the process of picking a student advisor was happening. A background check was conducted and they spoke to people who knew him.

They called him at the end of June or beginning of July and asked if the advisor role was something he would be interested in.

Aranda is also president of the ECISD Crime Stoppers program.

He said he’s not sure if he’ll pursue law enforcement.

“I’m working really hard in high school to see if I can have multiple options for something and see what I’m really interested in,” Aranda added.

He said he knows many of the law enforcement officers, particularly the ECISD police because of Crime Stoppers.

Aranda said his mom, ECISD Director of Administrative Services Maribel Aranda, is really proud of him “and that it’s a huge honor, especially being the first one in history. That’s crazy concept in my mind. But I know that she’s really proud of me and that she knows how hard I work and definitely she knows that it’s a big responsibility and she knows that I can handle it,” Aranda said.

He has an older sister who turned 20 Aug. 19.

Aranda said he’s interested in the laws put in place, especially on campuses to keep kids out of harm’s way whether that be drug laws, gun laws, threats, or cyber bullying.

“It’s really cool to see the process of how that works. Like in Austin, we got to go to the PD there. We got to see their cyber team and that was pretty cool seeing how like the process if someone gets threatened online and how they work through that. And also probably like how our anonymous tipping works, our app or our hotline or our website, how quick that process is where you get a tip and an officer immediately responds to it and they start doing their investigation. They start calling people, seeing what happened, getting evidence together,” Aranda said.

The Crime Stoppers hotline and mobile app revolves around anonymity.

“You’ll never have to reveal your identity. You’ll always be confidential no matter what …,” Aranda said.

He added that this is a pretty good concept because “you know, how kids can be.”

“If they find out it was you … they’ll go crazy, so it’s a pretty cool thing that you can be completely anonymous. You can do it on your phone without anyone looking,” Aranda said.

He added that people should definitely join Crime Stoppers.

“It’s an incredible program, one that it can give you many opportunities in life. You’ll get to meet some incredible people (and) make some really good relationships with others. … You always have a smile on your face seeing the difference that you make. Seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff of what how we keep our campuses safe and not just our campuses, but our community as well,” Aranda said.

Odessa High School Principal Anthony Garcia said Aranda’s selection is rewarding.

“I think it’s exciting for Odessa High School, as well as ECISD having a student representative represent Odessa, Texas,” Garcia said.

“Cooper is an exceptional student with many talents. This just being one of his talents that he’s here to be a voice for students, as well as our community,” he added.