Maj. Shawn Studley’s time as leader of Georgetown High School’s NJROTC will end at the completion of the current school year.
Studley informed the cadets on the morning of May 6 that he accepted a similar position at Catawba Ridge High School in Fort Mill.
“That was tough to do. We talk family. Everything we do, we’re family,” he said. “When I had to break the news to them that I was going away, I felt I was kind of letting them down a little bit.”
His cadets were shocked when he shared the news.
“I was surprised. Everyone here loves him,” said sophomore Katherine Taylor. “I hope everyone still gives it their all even though major won’t be here.”
“I didn’t believe it at first, because he messes with every class like that,” said sophomore Evyn Canova. “He is always there for us though.”
Studley was a Teacher of the Year finalist for the district in 2018 and coached JV football, soccer and cross country during his six years at GHS.
He was on active duty in the Marines for 24 years, so becoming a leader of high school students has become natural to him.
“17 of my 24 years were on recruiting duty, so I have spent a lot of time in high schools,” he said. “I enjoy being in a classroom and working as an instructor so it made sense to transition over to this.”
NJROTC enrollment increased consistently over Studley’s tenure climbing from 96 in 2013 to 149 cadets in the fall of 2018-2019.
“This is a cadet-run organization. I give them guidance and help them along the way, but they do the work and planning,” he said. “It is a testament to the fact that we had so much success this year.”
“There are so many different personalities out here,” said senior commanding officer Kimberly Lippert who will be graduating this year. “I believe the new senior staff will step up and kind of become that extra instructor for the new guys so they don’t lose hope.”
It has been a stellar year for his cadets, as they were chosen as the top NJROTC unit in South and North Carolina. They are also currently one of 12 units being considered for the top unit in the United States.
The squad qualified and participated in the Area 6 Drill/PT/Academic championships for first time in school history.
“We had the highest point total of any school over the last ten years in the Carolinas,” said Studley. “Not only were we recognized as the number one team this year, we scored higher than teams that been up in the nationals.”
There are 15 members of this year’s senior class and 11 of them are headed to pursue their degree in a variety of career choices like engineering, architecture and education with some even obtaining ROTC scholarships. The remaining four have enlisted into the United States Army, United States Marine Corps and the National Guard demonstrating their desire to serve their country before serving themselves.
100 Cadets out of 149 made the academic honor roll. 45 cadets achieved a 3.5 GPA or higher.
“Coming into this year, we knew we were small as far as numbers but with the quality of our program, the cadets really stepped up, said Studley. “ Our next year’s senior class will have some big shoes to fill.”
The program has been around since the high school was born and many members of local community have been a part of this organization.
“We try to build good citizens. Everyone knows what we do here, and they respect us and want to be part of the things we do.”
Studley referred back to his students when asked what he would miss most about Georgetown High.
“If I could take all 150 kids with me to my next destination, it would make things a lot easier,” he said. "Being surrounded by these students certainly made my time here great.”
The cadets feel the program will continue to build on what Studley started six years ago.
“I want to keep things normal. We were great this year, but can always improve,” said Madison Lin, the upcoming student commanding officer for 2019-2020.
“I feel we are a really track to go very far next year, said Canova. “I hope we push and make him proud.”