JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration marks a major milestone for Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville’s Brentwood neighborhood.
The school’s Air Force Junior ROTC drill team was selected to take part in the inauguration’s “Parade Across America”. The parade is virtual.
With focus and school pride, the women of the Andrew Jackson High School Air Force Junior ROTC Flying Lady Tigers Drill Team show what they’re made of. With this chance to showcase their dedication to service, they’re taking their skills to new heights. Keziah Hill is both a graduating senior and a cadet Lieutenant Colonel in the program.
“It makes me proud to be able to do this and it’s pretty nerve-racking,” Hill said. “But it’s still exciting.”
The team’s commander, Major Trent Johnson, has led the program for the last 14 years. He says when the team learned of the 2020 election results, the women practiced for weeks. They recorded themselves performing drills at Friendship Fountain and submitted the footage to Washington. Major Johnson recalls the moment he learned they were selected.
“It was just a dream come true for my young ladies,” Major Johnson said. “I wanted them to see themselves bigger than what they can see themselves right now.”
With that in mind, this experience is all the more special, knowing history is being made with the swearing-in of the first female vice president.
“It makes me feel like I can be able to go out and do something big like Kamala Harris did,” Hill said. “So, just doing this, it makes me proud.”
Taylor Simmons, also a senior, agrees. As Andrew Jackson’s 2020 Air Force Junior ROTC Queen, service and growth is something she values. She says her interest in the military began at home.
“My mom put me into a military school when I was in middle school, and we had leadership classes,” Simmons said. “They just made military seem so interesting. I tried it out, and I actually like it.”
Major Johnson told News4jax the support has been astounding. He said a group of the women’s’ classmates surprised them at the ROTC building with a big “congratulations”. He says for him, as a teacher, that was a special moment.
“You want to see your students actually, finally realize the potential you knew they always had within themselves,” Major Johnson said. “When they finally realize it themselves and the confidence that grows within them, as a teacher, you say, ‘I did my job’.”
Some of the young women told News4jax their plans after graduation are to join the military. Others said they intend to go to college. Either way, they know the sky is the limit. To see the “Parade Across America” program click here