Soldiers at Hunter Army Airfield welcomed roughly 300 high school students and faculty guests from Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools along with Savannah-area business leaders from Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation for a youth leadership symposium Jan. 23, 2020 at HAAF, Savannah, Georgia.
The event, named Student Leadership Program, is, according to organizers, a way for students to interact with community leaders, and to gain invaluable insight in techniques of social interaction, resume' writing, interview skills, leadership, and a wealth of other networking and interpersonal relationship experiences, which help shape positive future possibilities.
Organizers of the event encouraged the students to make connections and take advantage of the mentoring made available at the symposium, and they implored the students to ask questions and to engage in the experience.
For this symposium, one of six per-year that the program hosts, meeting and interacting with military leaders at HAAF was the main theme. The group of students gathered at the Truscott Air Terminal and were introduced to HAAF's senior-most enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Jermaine Robbins.
The students were also treated to a military working dog demonstration as well as up-close tours of several aircraft platforms, including a U.S. Coast Guard MH65D helicopter, a Blackhawk Medical Evacuation helicopter, a CH47 Chinook helicopter, and a King Air 350 fixed-wing aircraft.
Mia Mance, a master of ceremonies at the Student Leadership Program event, along with fellow MC, Ron Sullivan, said she and Sullivan were happy to be there to support the event.
"Part of what is really great about today is incorporating the military, because it's good experience for what it's like to lead and follow," said Mance.
Mance said she is a proud child of a military veteran and she also has other members of her family who serve in the military, so gathering business professionals and students in a military setting provides a unique and valuable experience.
"I'm really thankful that Hunter Army Airfield allows us to come in to experience this," said Mance. "Hunter is such a big part of our community, and we get to bring it all together here."
Command Sgt. Maj. Jermaine Robbins, HAAF's command sergeant major, was the opening speaker of the event. He spoke about how his grandfather was drafted during the Korean War and his experiences of skydiving out of airplanes at 25,000 feet. He also spoke about having the opportunity to graduate college with a bachelor's degree and how he has learned a lot about leadership.
Robbins took a moment later in the day to comment about the uniqueness and quality of the Student Leadership Program.
"We didn't have things like this when I was in high school, and a leadership counsel program like this would have helped me hone my leadership skills earlier in life, so I think this is positive all around, and I'm a fan of this program," said Robbins
A Career, Technical, Agricultural Education teacher at Savannah Arts Academy, Dr. (Educational Leadership) Willis Blake, said, "This program teaches students life skills and how to be good leaders. It's a good experience for them and for the teachers and the community."
As for the visit to HAAF, Blake said, "I think it's a good experience for them to watch the dog demonstrations, and some of these students have never been on a military base, so they were surprised to see a bowling alley and a chapel, so I think they were pretty impressed by that."
Blake said he has been a part of the Student Leadership Program for years and praised it for being an enriching experience for his students.
"It's a real good program, and I'm proud to be a part of it," said Blake.
There were 11 high schools from Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools represented at the symposium. These schools were Beach High School, Groves High School, Islands High School, Jenkins High School, Johnson High School, Liberal Studies at Savannah High School, New Hampstead High School, Savannah Arts Academy, Savannah Early College, Windsor Forest High School, and Woodville Tompkins High School.