28 May 2010
CTWG: Cadet turned Senior Gives High School Grad Presentation about Joining CAP
SM Kyle Johnson & Lt Col Carl Stidsen, Project Mentor
SM Kyle Johnson, a Public Affairs Staff Assistant assigned to Connecticut Wing Headquarters, recently presented his capstone graduation project to the Town of Bolton. His professional level project had three simultaneous goals, document the process of becoming a CAP Senior Member Flight Officer, a Public Affairs Officer and work toward a rating as an Air Crew Mission Scanner. His project is substantially complete on all levels. His final presentation was regarded as highly successful by CAP members and Bolton natives alike.
Johnson joined the CT Wing as a 17 year old cadet, the only and possibly first cadet ever assigned to Wing staff. It was recognized, because of his advanced age (17 1/2) and the short September to May project time period his introduction to CAP and eventual development into a senior member Flight Officer would not fit into the normal cadet program. He was given a slot as a staff assistant in Public Affairs while the particulars were worked out.
To maximize available resources and meet the tight time frame, Wing PA proposed that his project be coupled with a conceptual school recruiting project developing a presentation that would target advanced age high school students. The target audience, the normally hard to reach students age 17-18 whom often do not have an interest in the cadet program due to their age. However, to graduate high school these students are required to perform some sort of community service and often have a strong personal interest in building up professional level experience for inclusion on college applications and future job resumes. PA framed the service before self concept into a single question, “If you have to do community service anyway, would you rather do it raking leaves or by being an active part of a 700 member team helping to watch over and protect 3.5 million of your neighbors, friends and family?”
The concept of tapping into a potential pool of “Professional Flight Officer Staff Assistants” was considered. This concept was aimed at attracting new members that would be available to CAP’s wing and squadron staffs, helping existing senior members get more done while minimizing the chances of “senior member burn out”. An additional point was considered, if new senior members were aggressively sought after in the 17-18 year age bracket, would this early indoctrination increase senior member retention over the longer term? All good questions to consider.
After receiving an OK to kick off the project (staying within regulations) from Connecticut Wing Commander, Col Cassandra Huchko, (then CT Wing Chief of Staff), Lt Col Carl Stidsen volunteered as the official project mentor. Lt Col Stidsen, a pilot and the CT Wing Inspector General carefully monitored cadet Johnson’s progression through the Curry Basics, taught him drill and after attaining age 18, Senior Member Level 1 and Mission Scanner basics.
At Wing Headquarters Johnson patiently waited for his 18th birthday while remaining ranked as a cadet basic. During this time he served as an “intern” and trained in basic PAO responsibilities. He actively wrote and blogged articles and practiced event and aerial photography. As a senior member, he continues to serve in this role today while he progresses toward full APAO status and completes his Mission Scanner training flights. He has completed Senior Member Level 1 and is waiting out his time in grade before promotion to SM Flight Officer. Of great importance to the overall success of his project, the entire CT Wing staff treated him as an adult and as a professional from day one on.
Assessing the possible long term outcomes of his project, SM Johnson believes that every late age high school student in America represents an enormous “senior member” marketing target for CAP. Simply put, everyone wins in a conceptual “Flight Officer Training” scenario. The trainees receive and surpass their required community service hours while they simultaneously build up real life, professional job experience targeted at their areas of career interest. The school gets credit for all the community service hours and will graduate students better prepared to engage new challenges. CAP takes advantage of a potentially massive pool of previously untapped work resources and encourages long term membership. Lastly, America benefits through the efforts of highly motivated young adults that understand the meaning and the responsibilities associated with concept of “Service before self”.
Addendum 1: Connecticut Department of Education (similar to 22 other states)
“The Capstone Experience is a culminating activity that provides a way for students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they acquired during their secondary school years of education. It engages students in a project/experience that focuses on an interest, career path or academic pursuit that synthesizes classroom study and real world perspective. High school students are asked to demonstrate their ability to apply key knowledge and skills by planning, completing and presenting a culminating project linked to one or more area of personal interest and the individual's Student Success Plan.
The capstone experience may include an in-depth project, reflective portfolio, community service and/or internship. As part of the experience, the student will demonstrate research, communication and technology skills including additional relevant 21st century skills.