By Stuart Hirsch The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Four Anderson Preparatory Academy cadets recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress about the importance of federal funding for the Civil Air Patrol.
Although members of the Civil Air Patrol’s Indiana Wing have attended the annual lobby day in the past, this year was the first time APA cadets were asked to participate, said Raquel Johnson, an APA teacher and senior officer with CAP, who helped chaperon the trip.
Johnson said she was thrilled to have an opportunity to get a peek into the way Washington worked, but it was far more important for the cadets.
She said cadets are aware that as the center of national government, decisions made in Washington are extremely important.
“To actually be speaking to the congresspeople and to be learning how to conduct themselves, and how to speak is just a priceless experience these cadets have received,” Johnson said.
The cadets who attended the event were Victoria Morea, Katie Cox and Julianna Sulc, all 13-year-old eighth-graders; and Hannah Imel, a 15-year-old freshman.
The students traveled to the nation’s capital on Feb. 26 for what was supposed to be a four-day trip, but it was cut short because of bad weather that weekend here in Indiana.
The girls said that they were nervous in their first meetings with members of the Indiana congressional delegation or their staffs, but that passed quickly.
Although senior members of CAP made most of the detailed presentations about funding, the students had opportunities to speak as well.
“We had to go speak to the Congress and try to convince them how CAP is important and that without the funding we have now, we won’t be able to offer the military the services we do now,” said Katie Cox.
Officially the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, CAP is chartered by Congress and receives federal funding as a nonprofit corporation. A volunteer organization, CAP’s headquarters is at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.
The organization performs three missions assigned by Congress: emergency services, which include search and rescue (by air and ground), disaster relief operations; aerospace education for youth and the general public; and cadet programs for teenage youth. In addition, CAP has recently been tasked with homeland security and courier service missions.
Hannah Imel said she had an extensive opportunity to speak with U.S. House Rep. Luke Messer who left a meeting to talk with cadets and lead them on a tour of the U.S. Capitol, that included a visit to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Because their trip was cut short, the girls didn’t have many sightseeing opportunities, but they did make it to Arlington National Cemetery and were particularly impressed and humbled by the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“I thought that was a really great experience when you can actually see how our soldiers are so dedicated to our country to do that and watch over the tomb of the unknown soldier. It’s just a really good experience,” Katie Cox said.
The Washington trip also reinforced the importance of leadership skills the students have as cadets at APA.
Unlike some of the other girls, Julianna Sulc isn’t sure if she wants to pursue a career in the military, but knows her experience as a cadet has value.
“Whatever I do, I know that CAP teaches specific things like responsibility and respect. Basically anything I’m going to want to do, CAP will prepare me for it,” she said.
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