A bright future

Taking leadership amongst your peers in high school is one of the biggest steps you can take towards readying yourself for the future. Junior Zachary VanHessen is already stepping up through the JROTC program by taking his leadership skills with him into the real world. 

VanHessen’s passion to lead comes from a Boy Scouts of America National Youth Leadership Training program he attended in 2016. This program helps young men develop life skills, leadership skills, and discipline. 

“They helped me out when I got to Cedar because I already had training in some of the discipline and leadership skills we learn through JROTC,” VanHessen said.

JROTC focuses on developing life skills such as nutrition, financing, discipline, communication, and leadership. VanHessen has stepped up as a staff member in the JROTC program, which only one other student, junior Sarah Deal, has the opportunity to be. He was also made the honor guard commander for 2019-20, a position given out each year to an honorary JROTC student. 

“Being a staff member can be frustrating sometimes, it can be difficult to organize cadets to find where their interests are. I also have trouble getting other staff members on board with my ideas for the program. Stepping up and facing those challenges is a result of the leadership skills I have obtained,” Vanhessen said. 

The JROTC program at Cedar also offers the opportunity to join Raider, a military-based program that focuses on physical challenges and discipline. VanHessen joined Raider in his freshman year and has loved it ever since. 

One aspect of JROTC that VanHessen carries with him is military discipline. 

“It’s helped me in self-control and staying on top of things, I’ve learned to put myself in check when I need to so that I can keep moving forward,” VanHessen said.

Vanhessen plans to continue his military studies at West Point Military Academy after high school to become an army officer and study communications, business management, or political science.

“Whatever I decide to do after high school, I want to be a leader in it,” VanHessen said.