The First AFJOTC Awards Banquet Honors Excellence

Cera Deneke, Journalist

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On May 5th at five o’clock, the VFW opened its doors for Cape Central High Schools first ever AFJROTC awards banquet. The tables were draped in white cloth, flowers adorning them with silverware already prepared for the night’s hearty dinner. Grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and friends filed in, taking their seats as close to the podium as possible. After all, tonight was an important night.

At approximately 5:30 pm, the AFJROTC Honor Guard, led by Cadet Haley Stone, rose their flags and marched to the front, signaling Cadet Micah Ledbetter to start singing the National Anthem. Opening comments were provided by Cape Girardeau Superintendent, Dr. Neil Glass. After a dinner of chicken, beef, salad, green beans, baked potatoes, and apple pie, Colonel Goodin, Cape Centrals senior AFJROTC instructor, introduced the nights guest speaker, Senator Wayne Wallingford.  Senator Wallingford gave a speech that included his nine main points of leadership.

Now it was time for the night’s main event, the awards presentation. The cadet personnel team, consisting of Cadets Cera Deneke, Nicolas Stearns, and Te’Anna Burns, rose to the front of the hall to run this part of the ceremony. As Cadet Deneke announced each of the 20 awards, Cadets Stearns and Burns bestowed each award to the varying presenter of the award.

Recipient of the Air Force Association award was Cadet Erica Goodin. To earn this award, the cadet must be a junior or senior who ranks within the top 1% of cadets in academics, leadership, and professionalism. The cadet must present a positive attitude, initiative, judgment, self-confidence, and growth potential for increased leadership.

The Daedalian award was presented to Cadet Cole Knight. In order to receive this award, the cadet must be a junior or senior who demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of patriotism, indicates a desire to pursue a military career, rank in the top 10% of the AFJROTC class, and be in good academic standing with the school.

Cadet Erica Goodin was also awarded the American Legion Scholastic award. This award is presented to a junior or senior cadet for academic achievement by ranking in the top 10% of the high school class and in the top 5% of the AFJROTC class. The recipient must demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities and actively participate in school activities.

The American Veterans Award was presented to Cadet Ethan Glenn. This award is presented to a sophomore, junior, or senior cadet who possesses individual characteristics contributing to leadership. The cadet must have a positive attitude, a professional appearance, self-confidence, initiative, judgment, and dependability. To receive this award, an “A” in AFJROTC class is expected.

Cadet Gregg Hallman was awarded the Reserve Officer Association Award in which the sophomore, junior, or senior cadet must be in the top 10% in the AFJROTC class, top 25% of the student’s school class, and  the student must demonstrate dedication to citizenship, civic responsibility, self-discipline, and a sound work ethic.

The Military Orders of World Wars Award was presented to Cadet Nathan Clarke. For this award, the cadet must demonstrate integrity, initiative, and service. The cadet must actively participate in AFJROTC co-curricular activities and be committed to continuing the AFJROTC program the following school year.

Cadet Josh Pullen was awarded the Military Officers Association of America Award. This award is presented to an outstanding junior cadet who shows exceptional potential for leadership. The cadet must be in the junior class, be in good academic standing with the school, be of high moral character, and show a high order or loyalty to unit, school, and nation.

The recipients of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Awards were cadets Haley Stone and Cera Deneke. These awards are presented to two outstanding sophomores, juniors, or seniors who are actively engaged in the AFJROTC program. Each cadet must have a positive attitude towards the AFJROTC program, maintain an “A” in AFJROTC and be involved in co-curricular activities, community service, and hold a leadership position.

Cadet Nick Hodges was given the Military Order of the Purple Heart Award. This award recognizes an outstanding cadet who demonstrates leadership ability, has a positive attitude towards AFJROTC and the nation, holds a leadership position, is active in the school and community, and attains a “B” or better in all subjects for the previous semester.

The Air Force Sergeants Association Award was provided to Cadet Huy Tran. This award recognizes a sophomore, junior, or senior cadet who has demonstrated outstanding qualities of military leadership, discipline, character, and citizenship. The cadet must be within the top 10% of the AFJROTC class.

Cadets Addison Gahm and Haley Stone received the Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated AFJROTC Award. These awards are presented to two cadets who have attained a “B” or higher in the AFJROTC class, actively participated in the program, and have participated in at least 50% of all unit service projects.

Cadet Gia Hawkins was presented with the Retired Enlisted Association Award. This award is presented to a cadet who demonstrates excellent leadership skills, dedication, and initiative while serving in an enlisted rank.

The Celebrate Freedom Foundation Award for Excellence was awarded to Cadet Jack Maxton. This is presented to a cadet who demonstrates outstanding professionalism, displays positive personal attributes, shows leadership growth potential for a military career, possess the highest personal and ethical standards, ranks in the top 5% of the AFJROTC class and within the top 15% of the academic school class.

Cadets Gregg Hallman and Nick Stearns were given the Air Commando Association Award. These awards are presented to cadets who have shown outstanding leadership traits of self-motivation, initiative, service, and dedication. Cadets must have also written an essay detailing an Air Force Special Operations mission and describing the critical attributes of success.

The Daughters of the American Revolution Award was presented to Cadet Cera Deneke. This award recognized a sophomore, junior, or senior cadet who shows outstanding leadership potential, dependability, good character, patriotism, and has also earned a record of scholastic achievement. The cadet must be in the top 15% of the AFJROTC class and within the top 30% academically in the school class.

The Sons of the American Revolution Award was awarded to Cadet Jaiden Dixon. This award recognizes a sophomore, junior, or senior cadet who is in good military and academic standing, shows a high degree of merit with respect to leadership qualities, bearing, and excellence.

Cadet Kierra Wyatt was given the National Sojourners Award. The cadet must have encouraged and demonstrated the ideals of patriotism, service to community and nation, and has shown potential for outstanding leadership. The cadet must be within the top 25% of their AFJROTC class.

The Scottish Rite Award was awarded to Cadet Henry Brown. This award recognizes a cadet who has contributed to citizenship, shown academic excellence by being in the top 25% of their AFJROTC class and displays potential for outstanding leadership and values.

The Outstanding Cadet Awards are presented to one cadet from each school year class. Each of the cadets must have stood out by embodying the Air Force Core Values of “integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.” The senior outstanding cadet was Cadet Cole Knight. The junior outstanding cadet was Cadet Cannon Foutz. The sophomore outstanding cadet was Cadet Haley Stone. The freshman outstanding cadet was Cadet Mariel Bisher.

After concluding the awards presentation, Colonel Goodin stepped up to the podium once more to present special awards. The Gracie Academy scholarship was awarded to Cadet Rudy Hamilton. To congratulate the AFJROTC’s cyber patriot team for winning the Missouri state title, the team was given a trophy to commemorate their first year of success. Afterward, Colonel Goodin invited the senior cadets to the front to tell them his words of wisdom. Each senior cadet received an award. What Colonel Goodin wasn’t expecting was that the senior cadets had gotten something for him too. The cadets presented Colonel Goodin with a plaque reading “AFJROTC first year, 2018-2019”. The plaque was decorated with pictures that were taken throughout the year. With that, Cape Central AFJROTCs first annual awards banquet concluded.