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AHS Student Attends Sea Cadet Corps’ Senior Leadership Academy

Ian James has spent a week on an amphibious assault ship, worked on F18 attack fighter jets and trained on a submarine base. As a cadet in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the Aubrey High School junior has trained on Naval bases on both coasts and is comfortable traveling to a new place and walking into a room full of strangers.

Yet, he was a little nervous about his latest trip. Photo credit: U.S. Naval Sea Cadet CorpsIan was one of 30 cadets selected to attend the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps’ inaugural Senior Leadership Academy in April. He spent a week in the Washington, D.C. area, practicing and learning new leadership skills with other cadets and U.S. Navy officers.

“It’s the best cadets from around the nation,” Ian said. “You are going to be judged against the best so it was a little nerve-racking at first.”

Ian said he calmed down once he got there and realized he was among cadets who were like him.

“Everyone was super motivated,” Ian said. “It was fun to swap ideas and be around kids that were your speed. I was able to see how other units worked.”

Ian is a chief petty officer in the Sea Cadet Corps, which is a “national youth leadership development organization that promotes interest and skill in naval disciplines while instilling strong moral character and life skills through leadership and technical programs modeled after the Navy's professional development system,” according to the Sea Cadets website.

After Ian’s commanding officer told him about the leadership academy, Ian was hopeful about getting accepted. His resume is impressive; he attained the rank of chief petty officer at age 16, the youngest age possible, and has close to a dozen trainings under his belt. Once a month, he leads a squadron of 50 cadets at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station.

Photo credit: U.S. Naval Sea Cadet CorpsEvery summer, cadets have the opportunity to attend week-long trainings at different Naval bases across the country. Last summer, Ian led an airman training in Fort Worth. He changed the landing gear on an F18, replaced a wing on a jet and spent time in the air control tower.

All of those trainings helped prepare him for the intense week in D.C., crammed full of activities, guest speakers and instruction.

The chief petty officers toured the Air and Space Museum with a retired NASA astronaut, visited Capitol Hill and the White House, toured numerous monuments on the Mall and paid their respects at Arlington National Cemetery. The group also spent a day at the U.S. Naval Academy, where they spent time with current midshipmen.

Ian was up early and went to bed late, and spent a lot of time ironing.

“I think I spent an hour a day ironing clothes, which I wasn’t expecting,” Ian said. “Everyone else looked perfect so you couldn’t get away with a wrinkle.”

One of the highlights of the trip for Ian was waking up and running to the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Back in Aubrey, Ian is excited about the new ideas he has brought back from his experience.

Ian started out in the Sea Cadets as a 12-year old wanting to compete against his friends. Now, as a 17-year old, his goals have changed.

“Now I want to get new experiences and teach other kids how to take the most away from the program,” Ian said. “Passing on information to the next set of cadets is the biggest motivator for me right now.”Photo credits: U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps

About his future plans, Ian is interested in the Naval Academy, especially for football. The 6-5 offensive tackle was named honorable mention all-district this past season with the Chaparrals. He is also considering an MBA degree after college and working in the business sector.

Ian credits the Sea Cadets for developing his leadership skills and his confidence.

“Gaining confidence has been a huge part for me,” Ian said. “Just knowing that you can get into tight situations and still perform well.”

Ian is hoping to get one more training in this summer before leaving the program when he graduates high school. He is looking at paragliding school, training with an aircraft simulator or attending a boot camp in Washington State.

Just a typical summer.