U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – An auditorium filled with families, friends and faculty celebrated the graduation of 180 Air Force Academy Preparatory School cadet candidates May 20.
The ceremony marked the successful completion of the Prep School’s 10-month curriculum.
Two-hundred-thirty-five cadet candidates were admitted into the Prep School for the 2018-2019 academic year. Of the graduates, 176 received appointments to the Academy and are scheduled to report for Basic Cadet Training in June.
Addressing the audience, Preparatory School commander, Col. Timothy W Thurston II, quoted former President Ronald Reagan when sharing his thoughts about the cadet-candidates’ dedication and commitment to service.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” he said. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. Or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”
Thurston added, “We are training our replacements, we had better get it right.”
Cadet 1st Class Richard Evans, a 2015 Preparatory School graduate and soon-to-be second lieutenant with the Academy’s 2019 graduating class, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
“I remember being in your seats a mere four years ago,” Evans said to the graduates. “My 10-months at the prep school were some of the finest days of my Academy career. Those 10-months are what made all the difference in my success as a cadet on the hill [the Academy].
“Every second of the next four years to come will be worth it,” he continued. “At the same time, every day will demand your absolute best. That is the price we pay for choosing this profession.”
The Preparatory School also honored Cadet Candidate Micah Tice by presenting him with the Preparatory School Class of 2019’s very first graduation certificate.
Tice went missing when hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park last November.
“Micah pushed not only himself but those around him to be his best,” said Capt. Evan Wise, the graduation ceremony’s emcee. “He was confident, headstrong and loved to compete against his peers in all areas. Micah was the real deal. The total package.”
Prep School’s Class of 2019 award winners
— Overall Outstanding Cadet Candidate: Cadet Candidate Christopher Von Haasl
— Outstanding Cadet Candidate in Academics: Cadet Candidate Robert Petersen
— Outstanding Female Cadet Candidate in Athletics: Cadet Candidate Grace Hess
— Outstanding Male Cadet Candidate in Athletics: Cadet Candidate Mason Taylor
— Outstanding Cadet Candidate in Military Training: Cadet Candidate Christopher Von Haasl
— Outstanding Cadet Candidate in Character Development: Cadet Candidate Aric Althouse