11:44 PM

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

MAXWELL AIR FOR BASE, Ala. — Twenty-four of Civil Air Patrol’s outstanding cadets are gathering in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the 2018 Civic Leadership Academy.

“Interested in politics or a career in public service? This is for you,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander and chief executive officer.

Smith described the Civic Leadership Academy as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” afforded to CAP’s very best cadets. “The 24 cadets chosen for the academy get to visit the nation’s capital for a whole week while getting a well-rounded understanding of government leadership, public service and the principles that guide us as American citizens,” he said.

Scheduled from Feb. 24-March 3, the academy is a real-world, hands-on activity long recognized nationally as a top-notch educational experience.

“This select group of cadets participates in behind-the-scenes tours and briefings at the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Pentagon, White House, CIA, Arlington National Cemetery and other notable places in Washington,” said Lt. Col. John Erickson, 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,” Erickson said.

Now in its 13th 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 2017-2018. 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 considered worthwhile to principals, teachers, parents and students. CLA has made the organization’s National Advisory List each of the past 10 years.

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

On March 1, cadets attending this year’s academy 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.

“Our cadets make a favorable impression on the Hill,” Smith said. “Dressed in their CAP uniforms, they are always well-received by our congressional leaders. They truly are our greatest ambassadors, always eager to explain what Civil Air Patrol is all about and what our volunteers have done over the past year.”

Smith said CLA is one of CAP’s most important activities because the cadets chosen for the experience represent America’s future.

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

Participants in the 2018 academy:

Alabama Wing
Tuscaloosa Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Lt. Col. Brianna Fuchs

California Wing
Fullerton Composite Squadron 56

  • Cadet Capt. Sarah Noble Wiggins

Colorado Wing
Montrose Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Col. Matthew R. LaJoy

Georgia Wing
West Georgia Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Capt. Tanner B. Gale

DeKalb County Cadet Squadron

  • Cadet Lt. Col. Leilani Schroeder

Hawaii Wing
Wheeler Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Col. Andrew J. Gomes

Kansas Wing
Lawrence Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Capt. Breanna McCracken

Maryland Wing
Fort McHenry Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Jason McSweeney

Mount Airy Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Raegan Buzzard

St. Marys Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Abigail Q. Wood

Michigan Wing
Rochester-Oakland Cadet Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Jessica Middleton

Montana Wing
Flathead Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Maj. Shelby Petersen

Nevada Wing
Nellis Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Ryan Casa

Tahoe Truckee Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Capt. Justin R. Hoekman

New Jersey Wing
Bayshore Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Lt. Col. John H. Gallagher

Curtiss-Wright Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Capt. Charles Marashlian

New York Wing
Phoenix Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Garrett Chao

Ohio Wing
Medina County Skyhawks Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Maj. Regina Lough

South Carolina Wing
Camden Military Academy Cadet Squadron

  • Cadet 2nd Lt. William D. Larsen

Texas Wing
George H.W. Bush Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 2nd Lt. Matthew W. Koenig

Nighthawk Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Maj. Jackson W. Reed

Utah Wing
Thunderbird Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Gabriel Rosa

Virginia Wing
Augusta Composite Squadron

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Motsarah E. Caldwell

Lynchburg Composite Squadron

  • Cadet Lt. Col. John R. Sharp

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.