Selfless Service: Florida student honored as Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet of the Year

  • Published
  • By Keith Bland, Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC

A cadet from Mount Dora High School in Florida has been named the Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet of the Year for the 2023-24 academic year.

Cadet Peyton Scott was selected from more than 17,000 eligible high school juniors enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC at 831 units around the world.

“At first, I didn’t believe that I had actually been selected for such an honor. I was dumbstruck for a while because it was hard for me to wrap my head around how big of an impact this could have on our JROTC program,” Scott said.

Scott earned a 4.92 GPA, making him the top student out of 1,393 in his school and No. 1 of 122 in the cadet corps. He served as the SkillsUSA treasurer and was a member of the National Honor Society. He revived the unit’s Kitty Hawk National Honor Society chapter by rewriting the charter, training plan, and operations guide. He also led the Drill Team and Raider Fitness Team. He volunteered 268 personal hours of community service and inspired 18 other cadets to exceed 100 service hours this academic year.

Scott led the principal’s top fundraiser for Mount Dora, the annual Art Festival Parking Operation. He coordinated 100 volunteers and raised over $8,000 for his school. Scott also led the unit’s recruiting efforts, enrolling 83 freshmen into the program -- the best-ever enrollment in the unit’s history.

“Both of my AFJROTC instructors, Major Scott and SMSgt Crum have built an amazing program that allows everyone to succeed in both JROTC and in life. They both have provided overwhelming support for every single cadet in our program,” Scott said.

His Senior Aerospace Science Instructor, retired Maj. Andrew Scott, was not surprised by his selection. “Cadet Scott is driven, energetic, committed, loyal and trustworthy; he’s also humble, kind, respectful, courteous, encouraging and inspirational. He’s a phenomenal student and the most active community servant our program has ever seen.”

His Aerospace Science Instructor, retired Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Crum added, “He continuously goes above and beyond, far exceeding the expectations we have of our cadets, both in the program and across campus. More importantly, he genuinely cares about FL-951, Mount Dora High School and the surrounding community as is evident in his actions and constant giving back. He embodies all the characteristics you are looking for when trying to describe a citizen of character, duty and respect.”

After his senior year, Scott plans to attend college and is considering a career in the medical field. “At the moment I am pursuing a career as a neurosurgeon. Military service or a military academy following high school is an option that I am heavily considering.”

“My overall goal for my future is simply to make a difference. My personal satisfaction is largely from helping other people, communities, and programs in any way possible. Mount Dora Air Force JROTC does an outstanding job of allowing cadets like me to be able to make that difference in their community through so many service opportunities that are provided to every cadet every week. In the future, I want to continue to have a positive impact on others, and my community.” 

Selection criteria for the award included cadet leadership as well as involvement within the unit, school and community. Additionally, cadets’ academic performance and character traits such as dependability, followership, communication skills, motivation and problem-solving skills were evaluated. Air Force Junior ROTC instructors submitted nominations of third-year cadets who were juniors during the academic year. Nominations were evaluated to determine state winners, who then competed within their regions. Regional winners were evaluated to produce an overall winner and runner-up.

Scott, was the Region 2 winner, which includes 16 states across the Southeast, Midwest and Mountain West.

The three other regional award winners are:

Region 1, Alexia Walsh, Liberty High School, Henderson, Nevada
Region 3, Mya McColl, Cane Bay High School, Summerville, South Carolina
Region 4, Cadet Yashvir Sabharwal, Battlefield High School, Haymarket, Virginia, National Runner-Up