Kayla Walters (left) was ranked third and Elena Workman (right) was ranked ninth in Hillsborough County’s top 10 JROTC cadets.

Spoto High School Cadet Elena Workman and East Bay High School Cadet Kayla Walters each earned a spot on the list of Hillsborough County’s top 10 Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) cadets.

Workman joined Spoto’s JROTC program when she transferred from Newsome High School during her sophomore year. Senior naval science instructor Paul Lewis said she quickly acclimated to Spoto’s program and now serves as the community service officer.

“Elena aggressively pursues community service volunteer opportunities, which help our cadets become better citizens,” Lewis said. “It’s the epitome of citizen development.”

She is ranked second in her class and was ranked the sixth-fastest female cross-country runner at the national competition. After she graduates in May, Workman will attend the University of Florida with the United States Marine Corps ROTC scholarship.

Walters also earned a top spot in the county during her time with East Bay’s JROTC program. Master Sergeant Army instructor Marilyn Nieves described Walters as “dependable, reliable, hardworking and honest.”

She has also been named Cadet of the Year in two consecutive years and was chosen as the battalion commander by her peers.

“Her spot was earned by her ability to balance a heavy workload,” Nieves said.

In addition to her time with the JROTC program, Walters works, serves as the senior class vice president and is the softball team captain. She will graduate with her Associate of Arts degree and be second in her class. She has also earned 220 volunteer hours throughout high school.

Walters will attend Florida State University in the fall, where she will join the university’s ROTC program as an MS3 and the national guard.

“The JROTC program instills in students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility through education and mentoring,” Nieves said.

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

“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.”

For more information on Spoto or East Bay’s JROTC programs, visit www.hillsboroughschools.org.

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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.