Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
Central High School Junior Kayla Dawson, 17, received the Semper Fidelis Award for all American Top Cadet in the state of Florida.
Students are selected for the program based on “moral character and academic performance in addition to athletic abilities. Most critically, nominees must demonstrate a fighting spirit that improves the lives of their fellow citizens.”
Kayla enrolled in the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in her Freshman year at Central High School in Brooksville.
“I came into this program to better myself, I wanted to learn how to become an extrovert from being an introvert,” Dawson said. “I wanted to push myself in ways that I didn’t think I could.”
Kayla was the only JROTC student selected in the state of Florida to receive this award due to her continued perseverance in athletics, and academics as well as her participation in many volunteer activities.
“I feel very honored,” Dawson said. “Not many people realize that I put so much work into what I do and being honored with something this big makes me feel really good about myself.”
There are three schools in Hernando County that offer JROTC programs; Central (Navy), Hernando (Air Force) and Springstead (Air Force). Over 65 Central High School JROTC students have been awarded over $12 million in college scholarships since the program began in 2005 by Colonel Mike Ralph and Bruce Kennedy.
“We provide an opportunity for these kids to experience their leadership style, what works for them and what does not work for them… by the time they are sophomores or juniors they have already found out what works for them,” said Master gunnery sergeant. Arrett.
Only 100 students across the US are selected to participate in the Semper Fidelis All American program. Each All American and their chosen mentor is invited to attend the Battles Won Academy which will be held July 2019 in Washington DC.
More information about Central’s JROTC program visit: https://www.centralnjrotc.com/about-us.html
Take a look at what Kayla will be experiencing: https://sfaap.marines.com/
On the behalf of everyone at Hernando Sun, congratulations Kayla!