Camden JLP creating future CG leaders


Kristi Langenbacher


Sunday, May 20, 2018

They call them “legacy cadets.” Our daughter will officially be one when she reports to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on July 2.

She will be following in her father’s footsteps, while creating her own path as one of the newest members of the Coast Guard.

Her decision to accept her appointment to the Academy came after much careful thought and a lot of advice from others who have chosen a similar path. Many factors led to her decision, including: numerous visits to the Academy and participation in its week-long Academy Introduction Mission (AIM), visits to other military academies, discussions with many people who have chosen a career in the Coast Guard, and her lifetime as a “Coastie kid.”

But, perhaps the biggest influence in her decision was the Camden County High School U.S. Coast Guard Junior Leadership Program.

We had our first glimpse of the Coast Guard JLP at Camden County High School in 2015 – before we moved back to North Carolina from California due to my husband’s Coast Guard transfer.

It was clear from our first visit to the high school that the program was strongly supported and heavily involved with many aspects of the school and community. Well before our son joined the program in 2016, we knew of its success. We were fortunate enough to witness first-hand the strong support for JLP from the Camden County School District, and teachers and administrators at CCHS.

It was also evident that instructors Capt. Algernon Keith and Master Chief Lyn Dupree put their heart and soul into the program. Keith started the program from scratch in 2010 after retiring from 24 years of Coast Guard active duty service. For six years he was the only instructor in the program. Dupree joined Keith as an instructor in the program in 2016 after retiring in Elizabeth City after 28 years of active duty Coast Guard service.

The program is similar to other services’ Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs at other high schools, which also utilize a retired officer and a retired enlisted member as instructors. Cadets learn about maritime science, leadership and an introduction to the military.

It is one of only two U.S. Coast Guard sponsored programs of its kind in the nation. The other is at a magnet school, the Maritime and Science Technology Academy, commonly referred to as MAST Academy in Miami, Fla.

CCHS Principal Billie Berry began his career as the school principal the same year that the JLP began at Camden, and continues to be a staunch supporter of the program. Together, the instructors and administrators have built a solid program which introduces the students to Coast Guard life. And, clearly the program is a success.

This year, three cadets enrolled in JLP have received appointments to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Domenico Bulone and Bladen Harnly received appointments to the Academy for the Class of 2022. Matthew Djigounian received an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy Scholars Program with a follow-on appointment to the Academy class of 2023.

Our daughter will join Bulone and Harnly in the class of 2022, at the Academy, which is ranked among the nation’s most prestigious and selective institutions of higher learning. The Academy is an academic and military community educating future leaders for America. Founded in 1876, it is the smallest of the nation’s federal service academies.

According to the appointment presentation from the Academy, each year approximately 10,000 students inquire about admissions and many go on to complete the application. Of those, approximately 300 will be appointed and sworn in this summer to the Class of 2022.

“Since there are no congressional nominations, Coast Guard Academy appointments are based on merit. Therefore the most qualified applicants are selected through a holistic review process,” the appointment states. “A scholarship valued at $400,000, the Coast Guard Academy appointment offers a total integrated life experience. Our campus provides a secure, supportive and highly structured environment for a unique higher education experience focusing on academics, athletics, leadership and professional military development.”

We are confident that our daughter, and all of the members of the class of 2022, will be in good hands at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.