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Air Force JROTC closes year with award ceremony

Celebrating a tradition of leadership and commitment to their unit, the Farmington High School Air Force JROTC held their annual award ceremony on April 5 at the Centene Center.

“This ceremony signified a transition in leadership from the outgoing seniors to the rising juniors,” said Colonel Randall Sparks, the Senior JROTC Instructor. “For our award winners, these awards represent two (to) three years of hard work and selfless community service.”

During the afternoon program, this year’s cadets were awarded 27 different awards and two scholarships.

Senior cadet Alyssa Ratliff was awarded a scholarship from the Farmington VFW Post 5896. For the last five years, the post has awarded a deserving cadet who utilizes the A+ program and will be attending Mineral Area College with the scholarship.

Senior Cadet Hunter Hux was also awarded a scholarship during the award ceremony. The Farmington American Legion Post 416 each year presents a senior cadet who will be attending college in the fall with the scholarship. Hux has already been accepted and will be attending the College of the Ozarks.

The ceremony also recognized three senior cadets as members of the Kitty Hawk Society, the academic honor society of the Air Force JROTC. Receiving the right to wear the corps honor cord during graduation are Hux, Ryan Propst and Ratliff.

Seven seniors were also awarded a completion certificate for the successful completion of the program. The recipients were Stephen Crain, Ivy Keesee, Hux, Lauren King, Holly Linnenbringer, Propst and Ratliff.

“Our seniors have been great cadets and fine leaders,” Sparks said. “It is wonderful to see them all set up so well for pursuing their dreams. But, we are very excited about our rising juniors. There is an incredible wealth of talent in this class as well as the classes that will follow.”

As part of the proud tradition of passing the torch from senior class to the junior class, Sparks and Senior Master Sgt. Heflin announced next year’s corps leaders. For the first semester of the 2017-18 school year, Laura Ferguson will be corps commander followed by SukYi Scott as corps commander for the second semester. Assisting the two will be Drew Lynch as the operations squadron corps commander.

For Sparks, this year’s ceremony also held some significance for him. It brought to conclusion his first year as Senior Instructor.

“My first year has been everything I hoped it would be,” Sparks said. “Senior Master Sgt. Heflin has been a superior mentor for me as a first year teacher. I am grateful to him for his support of me, excellence with our cadets, and friendship as a newcomer to Farmington. These cadets are special and it has been a great privilege to be their Senior JROTC Instructor.”

To help celebrate the cadets’ special day, the USO of Missouri made a trip to Farmington with the USO Mobile Canteen in tow to serve an all-American lunch of hot dogs, chips and soda to the cadets after the ceremony.

“We have done activities with other ROTC programs, but never here in Farmington,” Said Kathy O’Reilly with the USO. “We do some great work at the airport, but we love bringing the mobile canteen to events like this and to our troops no matter where they are.”

The unit will perform their last task of the year at this year’s graduation as the corps color guard presents the colors and helps pay tribute to the veterans in the audience.

The Farmington High School Air Force JROTC program announced next school year's corps leaders on April 5. They include (from left) SukYi Scott, Corps Commander second semester; Drew Lynch, Operations Support Commander and Laura Ferguson, Corps Commander first semester.

The Farmington High School Air Force JROTC program announced next school year’s corps leaders on April 5. They include (from left) SukYi Scott, Corps Commander second semester; Drew Lynch, Operations Support Commander and Laura Ferguson, Corps Commander first semester.

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com

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