Civil Air Patrol
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What a Difference a Year Makes! First Year Milestone Reached for CAP’s Granite Cadet Squadron

Maryland Wing Granite Cadet Squadron Color Guard (Photo credit: Capt. Alice Raatjes)

February 27, 2021 – GRANITE, Md. – It seems like yesterday when Granite Cadet Squadron received its formal unit Charter from Civil Air Patrol.  Although meetings were held since September 2019, the Charter established the official squadron effective date as February 27, 2020. On this date, Granite squadron became one of 27 squadrons within CAP’s Maryland Wing (MDWG) and one of three cadet specific squadrons. Granite’s has a special distinction as its members are comprised primarily of homeschool students and supporting parents and meets during the school day. Lt. Col. Brenda Reed, squadron commander, is credited with the squadron’s membership concept that provides Maryland homeschool students an opportunity to benefit from CAP’s youth mission and goals. Through their membership in CAP, Granite homeschool students are introduced to the principles of flight, model rocketry, and leadership principles.

“Civil Air Patrol offers homeschoolers many valuable leadership opportunities and life skills that can be difficult to achieve at home,” explains Reed.  “Public speaking, group dynamics, leadership, along with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) projects and aviation opportunities makes CAP a perfect addition to any family’s homeschool curriculum.”

As a new squadron, there are many avenues to pursue to ensure the squadron is compliant with CAP standards and protocols. No one could have predicted the complications and the unusual obstacles that arose with the onset of COVID-19 and adjusting to the related regulatory ‘in-person’ meeting restrictions. With a strong commitment to achievement and the dedication, Lt. Col. Reed coupled with the resilience of the squadron’s members; Granite squadron has exceeded program expectations during this first year. Looking back and to the future, Granite cadets have adapted and travel a direct path to success regardless of learning challenges.

With the advent of COVID restrictions, blended meetings became the norm. Cadets participate in weekly activities either in person or virtually. This concept, although not the standard method of cadet participation, has provided Granite squadron an alternate way to become a cohesive unit that actively participates, learns, shares ideas, and ultimately achieve success. Brigadier General Edward Phelka, CAP’s national vice-commander, virtually reached out to members when he joined a meeting in March 2020 providing words of encouragement and leadership.

The squadron and its cadets have made tremendous strides during this first year to include achieving several individual and group awards. The squadron received CAP’s 2020 Quality Cadet Unit Award for displaying strong program elements. Of the 27 MDWG squadrons, 13 received this award for the year 2020. Recognized for their distinct contributions, three of Granite squadron’s members received MDWG 2020 Of-the-Year awards, 2d Lt. Christie Ficke, Education and Training Officer Of-the-Year, CMSgt Tom Reed, Historian Of-the-Year, and Cadet 1st Lt. Jacob Stigdon, Cadet Junior Officer of the Year. Rounding out some of our success, five squadron members were awarded CAP’s Mid-Atlantic Region’s Commander’s Commendations for their work on the spring/summer COVID-19 relief mission.

CAP’s cadet program centers around individual aspects of integrity, responsibility, respect, fairness, good citizenship, and the pursuit of excellence. To achieve program goals, cadets progress through a learning program of 16 achievements divided into four phases related to learning leadership, command, and executive levels.  Promoting through these phases is a process that with commitment, dedication, and participation in activities, cadets achieve goals, and progress through the CAP cadet promotion path to excellence.

Granite cadets began their CAP journey with a clean slate, knowing little of CAP and its programs. Eager to learn and willing to accept change, cadets quickly adjusted to the ‘CAP cadet way of life.’ During this first year, 12 Granite cadets have progressed through CAP cadet program’s first Learning phase receiving the Wright Brothers Award. Upon receipt of this award, these 12 entered the program’s Leadership phase establishing a new goal to progress into the Command phase. Currently, two cadets are poised to receive the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award which will allow them to enter the Command phase of the CAP Cadet program.

Granite squadron participated in various activities and community events during this first year which included the squadron’s color guard participation in a U. S. Naval Academy retirement ceremony and hosting an Open House and Red Ribbon Leadership Academy for potential new cadets. The Open House had positive results as seven new cadets joined the squadron in August of 2020.

CAP offers an extensive STEM program. Civil Air Patrol’s STEM Kit program provides STEM resources for hands-on, inquiry-based learning. Over the past year, Granite squadron ordered and completed two STEM kits – the telescope and Sphero globes. The globes, mini robots, help cadets apply skills, such as sequencing, estimation, control, and problem-solving, as they begin a path to early cyber knowledge. Additionally, CAP National Headquarters requested Granite squadron test special mats devised to complement the Sphero globes expanding project capabilities and learning. Overall, Granite cadets gave a ‘thumbs up’ to the Sphero globe and mat kits.

At the Granite squadron, STEM kit learning, and usage does not end at our squadron level. Upon completion of the formal STEM classes, the kits are then loaned out to Granite cadets’ families to use in their homeschool curriculum, providing additional opportunities for CAP’s external aerospace program to reach the non-CAP siblings in each of the families.

In spring 2020, cadets were assigned to present scheduled speeches related to the individuals associated to the various award/achievement levels of CAP’s cadet program. Within the cadet program phases, 15 individuals of military and aerospace historic importance are recognized with specific achievement awards. This project provided cadets an opportunity to learn the importance of historical contributions and to hone public speaking capabilities. In spring 2021, all cadets will begin a second round of speeches on topics related to leadership.

MDWG Headquarters is located on the grounds of the former Nike Missile Base BA-79, Maryland. Wing members and various organizations have worked and contributed to the restoration of the site and the preservation of its history. Granite squadron members and families regularly assist with the restoration of the Nike missile site. For more information about this on-going project visit http://mdwg.cap.gov/index.php/nike-missile-site-restoration-project/

Major John Ralph, Director of Operations, MDWG, CAP teaches Granite cadets about unmanned aerial systems (Photo credit: Capt Alice Raatjes)

CAP MDWG members and our Maryland community have contributed to Granite squadron’s successful first year including, in part, Lt. Col. Kevin Redman, Maj. Jim Williams, Maj. John Ralph, Maj. Patrick Aaron, Maj. Bob Nelson, , Cadet Lt. Col. Laura Midkiff, and the officers from the U. S. Cyber Command, Ft. Meade, Maryland. Through the support of these and others, Granite cadets have flown in CAP’s Cessna aircraft, handled small unmanned aerial systems (drones), learned about cyber ethics and cyber security, the Hubble telescope, and so much more.

Reed commented, “Our successful first year was made possible by the incredible support of so many in the Wing, our parents, and Granite senior members.  As we look toward our second year, I am looking forward to watching the continued growth in these amazing young people as they pursue excellence through the leadership opportunities CAP provides.  I am hopeful that, as the pandemic ends, Granite can reach out to the broad homeschooling community in Maryland to introduce more youth to the advantages Civil Air Patrol offers to their family’s school curriculum.”

We celebrate our past and envision our future. We have been busy our first year.  Granite Cadet Squadron recognizes that the road to excellence has just begun and the potential for exploring new ideas and meeting challenges is present in all that they do as CAP members.

Granite Cadet Squadron meets at Maryland Wing Headquarters in Granite, Md., on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Prospective cadets and their families are welcome to stop by the squadron.  Visit the squadron’s website https://granite.cap.gov  for more information or email granite@mdwg.cap.gov for specific questions.

More than 1,500 members serve in Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing. Last year, wing members flew 13 actual search and rescue missions. Overall, the Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland, flying 2,245 hours in all mission categories, and was credited with four finds. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For information, contact the Maryland Wing at mdwg.cap.gov or follow the wing on Facebook.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 82 lives annually. CAP’s 61,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for information.

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Prepared by: Capt. Alice Raatjes, Public Affairs Officer, Granite Cadet Squadron, Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol.

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