Benjamin Phelps has excelled in Newsome High School’s JROTC program since his freshman year.

Newsome High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Cadet Major Benjamin Phelps was named one of the top cadets in Hillsborough County in a recent ranking by the county.

Phelps, ranked seventh in the county, has been with the program since his freshman year.

“It has been a true pleasure watching him grow as a leader over that time,” Newsome’s Lt. Col. Eric Deal said. “[Phelps] is an extraordinary scholar, athlete and leader.”

Phelps will attend the University of South Florida in the fall after earning a four-year National Army ROTC scholarship, which he will use to major in finance at the university.

He will graduate from high school with a 4.0 GPA and as a member of multiple campus honor societies. He has held several leadership positions within Newsome’s JROTC program, including his most recent position as battalion operations officer. Through this position, Phelps was responsible for leading the school’s first-ever drill competition in February.

He is also the program’s rifle team captain and has competed in several JROTC competitions, including the Civilian Marksmanship Program Regional Championship. While he is not participating in Newsome’s JROTC program, Phelps is a frequent volunteer at Seeds of Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides food to the community.

“The All-service Cadet of the Year board was a completely new experience to me that really challenged and pushed me to become my best self,” Phelps said. “I am proud of my accomplishments and know that I put in my max effort to represent me as well as Newsome.”

Each year, Hillsborough County’s 28 programs send their top cadets to service-specific boards to represent the school.

“It is always an honor to recognize our JROTC programs here in Hillsborough County,” Superintendent Van Ayres said. “The competition was tough, and they should be very proud to be named one of the top cadets.”

Having a cadet make the top 10 is a common feat for Newsome’s program. Over the past seven years, six cadets have finished in the top 10, including five Cadet of the Year winners.

For more information on Newsome High School’s JROTC programs, visit

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.