From July 10th until the formal military graduation parade on July 17th, 300 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from 22 high schools in three states polished leadership skills at Converse College in Spartanburg. The states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia were represented with the best of their AFJROTC programs. Cadets ranging in age from 14 to 18 learned to work on teams, manage their time, and make decisions in a time-tested military framework. The basics of follower-leader relationships and respect for authority were practiced in every activity. It was a demanding week that began with physical training at 5:30 a.m. each morning and ended with a military “retreat” ceremony each evening to honor our flag. Nearly 100 awards were presented after Saturday’s parade in Twichell Auditorium. It was an impressive display of eagles and medals.
The leadership school is sponsored by Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, SC and Mr. Lance Radford, Wade Hampton High’s Principal. Colonel Ben Pittman, the senior AFJROTC instructor at Wade Hampton, started the camp in 1997. It has been rated as one of the premier leadership schools in the nation. Thousands of graduates have achieved success in both military and civilian endeavors. Other South Carolina schools included Berea High School, Blue Ridge High School, Emerald High School, and D.W. Daniel High School.
Four Wade Hampton cadets garnered some of the top awards. Alex McCullough was named the Top Performer in Room Inspection. He and Mick Perry were also named Honor Graduates – the top 10% of the Cadet Corps. Rane Hardgrave was picked as an Outstanding Flight Cadet, and Tyquan Griffin accepted the Outstanding Fitness Award for Wade Hampton which had the overall best performance in physical fitness. Cadet Daniel Lee received the Commandant’s Award as the most outstanding cadet at the camp. It was a great week for Wade Hampton and hundreds of other young Americans.