By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
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.
Cox said she chose to take the test for promotion because she thought it’d be a great experience and she likes what CAP and the U.S. Air Force stand for.
Both she and Reedy were promoted to cadet second lieutenants and Cox said she’s really proud of accomplishing the goal she had set for herself.
Reedy said a part of the reason she wanted to try for promotion was to help encourage others, to “lead them in the right direction.”
“I feel really honored,” she said. “I worked this hard and got through it. It’s not exactly easy.”
Henderson said the students do “work really hard” to get where they are and that the staff tries to “teach them as much as we can” so that they can go further.
Commandant Robert Guillaume said the awards look great on a resume and can lead to national scholarships along with invites to the National Leadership Conference.
Like Dani Palmer on Facebook and follow her @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.