By KIMEKO MCCOY
Alex Lazar may be just a junior in high school, but she’s already got a very busy schedule.
Whether babysitting for neighbors, serving as a head acolyte for the Trinity Episcopal Church or solving world issues with Model UN at Pedro Menendez High School, Lazar has a lot on her plate.
Before Lazar ever stepped foot on her high school campus, she had already heard the horror stories.
To help her make the transition from nervous freshman to involved junior, Lazar found refuge in the 450th Youth Ambassadors.
“I’ve always heard the high school horror stories so I thought of those when I first entered high school,” Lazar said, “but the Youth Ambassadors has really helped me find myself.”
Becoming an ambassador
When Lazar first joined the Youth Ambassadors, she had no idea what she was getting into but upon the group’s first meeting, she found herself pleasantly surprised.
“What really got me into the program,” Lazar said, “is when we did a little ghost tour and we went to the different cemeteries and we learned about all the little hauntings.”
Lazar said it was scary at first but it really brought how historic everything was in the city to her attention.
The high school junior has visited many of St. Augustine’s gems during her time with the Youth Ambassadors but her favorite is Fort Mose Historical State Park.
“Fort Mose, I love just the story behind it,” she said.
Lazar said she admires the fact that the people of Fort Mose had to fend for themselves.
“They had to fend for themselves and then when you go out to the site and it’s all marsh now and it’s all water, you have to look out and you say, ‘Wow,’” Lazar said. “People actually lived here. People established their homes here and now look at what it’s become. It’s beautiful.”
She likes the fact that that begs the question, what’s beneath the water.
Growing with responsibility
In addition to learning history, which is Lazar’s favorite subject in school, the Youth Ambassadors offers her the ability to grow and learn about herself.
The group’s coordinator, Nancy Birchall, gives each ambassador responsibility and trusts that they’ll see it through.
Lazar’s role now is chair of the upcoming holiday dinner. The holiday dinner, which is planned for December, will wrap up the year for the ambassadors.
Lazar said music, dancing and other things are planned for the event. As a part of the responsibility, Lazar and the holiday dinner team has planned for dress code, ticket price and have also been put in charge of contacting and reserving the restaurant.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost,” she said, “because Mrs. Birchall puts so much trust in us and she is so sure of our abilities.”
Even outside of the ambassador group, Lazar said Birchall often offers words of encouragement throughout the week.
“She makes us feel great,” Lazar said.
Although the conflict in Syria has her Model UN group stumped, Lazar’s confidence boost allows her to walk with her head high down the halls of Pedro Menendez High School and tackle her busy schedule.
A nudge in the right direction
Initially, Lazar was hesitant to join the ambassadors but after encouragement from her mother, Sandy Bosselman, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bosselman plays a huge role in her daughter’s life.
From encouraging Lazar to even being the one driving her from place to place, Bosselman is always willing to lend her daughter a helping hand.
“It is definitely challenging,” Bosselman said.
Between Lazar and her brother, Bosselman makes it work.
“We make it work,” Bosselman said. “My job is to just sort of try to provide guidance.”
“I want her to be independent and I want her to find her own way and just know that I’m there if she needs help and to hopefully support her in making good choices,” she said.
Next year, the goal is to get Lazar a vehicle to make it even easier.
Lazar has had the chance to meet the mayor and other notable people in St. Augustine.
“That to me,” her mother said, “is one of the most valuable assets of this program is these kids getting to see adults that you can emulate — role models.”
What Bosselman really likes is that this program really caters to those that don’t run with the jocks, musicians or other high school groups. Instead, it encompasses the body of the thinkers, she said.
Looking toward the 500th
As of now, Lazar has some big plans delving into a career in criminology.
Watching shows like “NCIS,” “Bones” and “Dexter” is perfect for the future forensic psychiatrist.
“I’m big into the human mind and how it works and how humans are put together,” she said.
If she doesn’t go with the option of criminology, her back-up plan is something within the medical field.
“I’ve already got my dream school and my life planned out,” Lazar said.
If she’s not too busy digging into the mind of a criminal, Lazar spends time hanging out with friends at the beach, doing yoga or enjoying a snack from the Spanish Bakery.
Often, her mother said, she can tackle a loaf of bread on her own.
Lazar says when it’s only $2 for a loaf of bread, there’s no passing it up.
With all that Lazar has learned with the ambassadors, the bread at the Spanish Bakery and the fact that the 500th is within her lifetime, Lazar said she’ll definitely find her way back to the nation’s oldest city.
If push comes to shove and Lazar finds she is unable to walk with age, she’ll wheelchair her way here, she said.
“I’m coming back for the 500th,” Lazar said, “definitely.”