ANDERSON, Ind. — Anderson Preparatory Academy freshman Hannah Imel earned herself an accolade that less than 7 percent of students receive around the country: the Amelia Earhart Civil Air Patrol (CAP) award.
A step below the Earhart award and given to less than 15 percent of CAP cadets in the nation, eighth-graders Catherine Cox and Emma Reedy received the Billy Mitchell award.
“It’s a huge milestone for them to get these awards,” said Cliff Henderson, APA’s senior CAP instructor.
They’re given so rarely, he added, because of the “commitment that it takes to receive the award and the complexity of the exam.”
Each gives the student a promotion in rank at the school and must be earned through the passing of multiple physical and written exams, leadership in drill, essay writing and speech giving.
Imel is the student commander of APA’s after-school CAP squadron and said she’s met new people with “similar traits” and picked up leadership skills from her experience.
“These things (the lessons learned) will always be used in life,” she said.
With the Amelia Earhart award comes the promotion of captain at APA, Imel said.
“I’m really proud of how far I’ve gone,” she added.
Her mother, Donna Imel, said she and Hannah’s father are very proud, too. While Hannah was “more than ready” for the promotion, Donna said they were surprised at how quickly she’d earned it.
“Our only concern was that she was taking on a lot,” she said, “but she loves the Civil Air Patrol.”
Henderson said that it’s “extremely rare” to see cadets receive these kind of awards at Cox, Reedy and “especially” Imel’s ages. The average starting age of a cadet in a traditional squadron is 15, he said, while Imel is 14 and Cox and Reedy 13.