COVID-19 may have caused Newsome High’s JROTC annual awards ceremony to be indefinitely postponed, but it didn’t stop two of its cadets from receiving top awards. Cadets Max Blumenfeld and Andrew Fischer received awards for their dedicated service and exemplary scholarship.
Blumenfeld, Newsome’s battalion commander, won the prestigious Legion of Valor award, which recognizes achievement of scholastic excellence in military and academic subjects. The honor is given to only one out of every 4,000 cadets. Blumenfeld is the only cadet in the state of Florida to receive this year’s award.
He also won the 6th Brigade essay contest. His essay, “Live with Integrity, Lose with Dignity, and Win with Humility,” was selected as the top essay in the state of Florida—marking the first time a student from Hillsborough County has won this essay contest.
“It was such an honor to be selected as the award winner,” said Blumenfeld, a senior who is currently completing an application in the hopes of receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“I want to serve my country,” he added.
Fischer, also a senior, was awarded the prestigious General H. Norman Schwarzkopf Leadership Award in recognition of his exceptional performance in academics, athletics, community service, good citizenship and leadership. The award is bestowed upon an outstanding junior by the West Point Society of Florida West Coast.
While West Point admissions officers are hoping Fischer will apply to its school, he has his sights set on another service academy.
“My dad was a pilot in the Air Force for 22 years and my uncle was also a pilot and an Air Force Academy graduate,” he said. “I hope to follow in their footsteps.”
With his goal of flying C-130s in his sights, Fischer is completing the lengthy application process for appointment to the United State Air Force Academy (USAFA).
Both agree that while the awards are nice, the real prize is the lessons that the JROTC program has instilled in them.
“I was so shy and introverted freshman year, but I realized I couldn’t rise through the ranks in JROTC without getting involved,” said Blumenfeld. “It pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me learn how to lead people.”
In addition to honing leadership skills, he learned the importance of camaraderie and mutual respect for others.
“I attribute some really positive changes in me because of the lessons I learned in JROTC,” he said.