Pictured (left to right): Dr. Andrea Beverly, HCPS CTE supervisor; Cadet Lt. Col. Jadyn Sitzmann; Katherine and Chad Sitzmann, Jadyn’s parents; Newsome High School Principal Katie Rocha; and Col. Ron Tucker, HCPS director of Army instruction.

By Mariela Alvarez

Newsome Cadet Jadyn Sitzmann received the Legion of Valor award, one of the highest medals a cadet can receive. The Legion of Valor award is only given to one of every 4,000 cadets, and Sitzmann is the only Army JROTC cadet in the state of Florida to receive the award this year.

Sitzmann grew up in a military family and moved around a lot. She kept to herself and decided to stop making new friends to spare herself the disappointment of having to say goodbye. In 2019, Sitzmann moved to Valrico, where she was first introduced to JROTC when she joined the Randall Middle School JROTC Club.

“I instantly fell in love with the Newsome JROTC program. I was introduced to all the special teams and got to interact with high school students,” said Sitzmann.

Over the next four years of high school, she quickly advanced through the ranks. She served as a platoon leader and company commander before being selected as the Wolfpack Battalion commander this year. Sitzmann is a member of the raider and drill teams and has helped lead both teams to the state competitions each year. Last month, Sitzmann competed in the Best Raider Competition along with her partner, Anna Pultorak, and they placed second overall in the female category. Sitzmann is also the president of the JROTC Club, a member of the cross-country team and participates in hunter jumping at Hidden Meadow Farms.

“JROTC has made me the leader I am today,” said Sitzmann. “It has given me confidence and taught me so many valuable lessons.”

When she joined JROTC, she was often too shy to speak, and now she is leading the entire Battalion.

“The people within JROTC showed me true friendships and helped me come out of my shell and find my voice again,” said Sitzmann.

Sitzmann’s parents were both extremely successful in the Air Force and served as her motivation as a leader. Following graduation, Sitzmann intends to participate in Air Force ROTC at USF and major in International Affairs.

“I am so honored to have received the Legion of Valor award,” she said. “I have grown so much over the past four years, and I am so grateful for the leadership opportunities provided by JROTC. The program is my second family.”

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