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24 Top Cadets Headed to Nation's Capital for Civic Leadership Academy

Civic Leadership Academy, a premier educational experience for Civil Air Patrol cadets, begins Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-four of CAP’s top cadets will take part in this year’s weeklong academy, long recognized nationally for its outstanding academic value. They come from 14 CAP wings and seven regions.

“This is not your average field trip to Washington,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander and CEO. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity afforded to our very best cadets.”

The cadets chosen for the academy get to visit the nation’s capital from Feb. 23-March 2. They will receive a well-rounded understanding of government leadership, public service and the principles of American citizenship.

“This select group of cadets participates in behind-the-scenes tours and briefings at the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Pentagon, State Department, CIA, Arlington National Cemetery, Federal Aviation Administration, Government Accounting Office and other notable places in Washington,” said Lt. Col. Brenda Reed, director of this year’s academy.

In addition to a blend of lectures, seminars and assigned readings from historic and current sources, the cadets also visit the National Archives, legislative offices and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, as well as the World War II, Korean War, Vietnam Veterans, Women in Military Service and Lincoln memorials. At each of these locations they hear from VIPs who provide insights designed to deepen their understanding of government in action.

Their tasks culminate with a final project — a presentation on their CLA experience to their peers in their home squadrons and wings.

“The final project allows everyone back home to experience some of what these cadets experienced and hopefully will encourage other cadets to consider not only CLA as a special activity but government service as a potential career,” Reed said.

Now in its 14th year as one of CAP’s National Cadet Special Activities, CLA allows participants to experience the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government firsthand. It’s an academically intense, interactive study of U.S. government in action, providing participants the opportunity to grow as citizens and young leaders through lessons in persuasive leadership, federal government, public service careers and American heritage.

In recognition of CLA’s outstanding academic value, the National Association of Secondary School Principals has again placed it on the National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2018-2019. The NASSP’s National Committee on Student Contests and Activities annually evaluates the educational value and organizational structure of school-related program opportunities nationwide and recommends those worthwhile to principals, teachers, parents and students.

CLA has made the organization’s National Advisory List the past 11 years.

“This is a great value,” Reed said. “It gives our cadets an opportunity to interact with all branches of government, where they often get to see firsthand the power of persuasive leadership.”

Such knowledge could prove invaluable for the next generation, as these CAP cadets represent America’s future.

“Our hope is that these cadets will be greatly inspired through their experiences in Washington,” Smith said. “We want them to always remember the civic lessons they learned here, so they can put them to work in their own communities.”

On Feb. 28 the cadets will participate in CAP’s annual Legislative Day, where they will meet with their elected leaders on Capitol Hill. As part of the event, the cadets will assist their region and wing commanders in briefing their representatives and senators on how CAP’s primary missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs have benefited their communities.

Smith said the cadets’ presence makes for a favorable impression. “They truly are our greatest ambassadors on the Hill,” he said. “They always look sharp and are quick to explain what Civil Air Patrol is and how it benefits their communities.

Participants in the 2019 academy:

Alabama Wing

  • Bessemer Composite Squadron — Cadet Maj. William Jenson Sawyer

California Wing

  • Los Alamitos Cadet Squadron 153 — Cadet 1st Lt. James Anhlinh Nguyen

Florida Wing

  • Patrick Composite Squadron — Cadet Capt. Jordan J. Wiggins

Illinois Wing

  • Col. Shorty Powers Composite Squadron — Cadet Lt. Col. Sara Jordan Schofield

Iowa Wing

  • Davenport Composite Squadron — Cadet 1st Lt. Anton John Joseph Dahm

Maryland Wing

  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron — Cadet 2nd Lt. Richard P. Baker
  • College Park Composite Squadron — Cadet Capt. Rebecca Akhigbe
  • Col. Mary S. Feik Composite Squadron — Cadet Capt. Zara Williams
  • Towson Composite Squadron — Cadet 1st Lt. Benjamin Mullen
  • Upper Montgomery Composite Squadron — Cadet 1st Lt. Katherine Weinhold

Michigan Wing

  • Van Dyke Cadet Squadron — Cadet Lt. Col. Harley A. Jones

Minnesota Wing

  • Anoka County Composite Squadron — Cadet Maj. Iva Jean Hammitt-Kess and Cadet 2nd Lt. Edward Daniel Christian
  • Viking Composite Squadron — Cadet 1st Lt. Katherine Lee Tostenson

National Headquarters

  • Yokota Cadet Squadron — Cadet Capt. Rowan Goble

New Hampshire Wing

  • Greater Nashua Composite Squadron — Cadet Capt. Elizabeth Tena Forbush

New York Wing

  • Canandaigua Composite Squadron— Cadet 1st Lt. Gavin W. Davis

South Carolina Wing

  • Low Country Composite Squadron— Cadet 1st Lt. Lydia Eudy

Texas Wing

  • Black Sheep Composite Squadron— Cadet Capt. Melina Peters
  • Delta Composite Squadron— Cadet Maj. Tomas Fernando Maldonado

Wisconsin Wing

  • La Crosse Composite Squadron — Cadet Lt. Col. Mathias Duane Gilliam
  • Col. R.C. Jaye Memorial Composite Squadron — Cadet 1st Lt. Sophie Thompson
  • Eagle River Composite Squadron —Cadet 2nd Lt. Billie Ruth Botes
  • Eau Claire Composite Squadron — Cadet Lt. Col. Annika Jeanette Walukas