By March 24, 2015
Columbia High senior Brianna Green was holding an armful of certificates after her school's ninth annual JROTC awards day program March 18.
"Congratulations, young lady," Dr. Jennifer Garrett, Columbia's former principal, told her. "Way to step up to be the best."
More than 40 awards were presented to many of the 180 Army JROTC cadets in the Eagle Battalion.
Green, cadet operations sergeant major, received the Redstone Arsenal Garrison Commander's Award of Excellence. The award's other recipient was fellow senior Trung Le, a cadet captain and company commander.
Green also received the Air Force service academic excellence award, superior saber team award, screaming eagles certificate of achievement, superior junior cadet decoration award, NACEE certificate of appreciation, the AEGIS award and an award of excellence from the Missile Defense Agency.
After graduation the third-year cadet plans to attend Auburn University at Montgomery for a year and then transfer to Auburn University where she'll major in physical science and chemistry. She wants to pursue a career as a pediatric physical therapist.
"It means a lot," Green said of JROTC. "It's very beneficial financially, physically and mentally. And it provides leadership, teamwork and communication skills to help me succeed in the real world."
Kelly McDaniel, a staff assistant in the AMCOM Logistics Center's Aviation Directorate, presented the Hunter Cantrell Award of Service in honor of her late son, Hunter Cantrell. A member of Columbia's JROTC, he died at 15 when he was struck in a crosswalk at the school in January 2012.
"I can't thank you enough for the positive influences you were in his life," McDaniel told the cadets.
Col. Michael Theodoss, deputy program director of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System for the Missile Defense Agency, presented the MDA award of excellence and also delivered remarks.
Theodoss told the cadets that being successful in high school was the foundation for all the success he had in his professional career. He didn't have a JROTC program where he grew up in Massachusetts but he joined ROTC at the University of Massachusetts and earned a scholarship.
"All comes from that foundation of striving for excellence and doing well in high school," Theodoss said. "And I can tell you all do that as well."