Lt. Col. Scott Thomson said he remembers sitting in a desk in Leavenworth High School a quarter century ago.
And, he said Tuesday, he doesn’t remember thinking a lot about the future. What he said he realizes now is that the future was coming, nonetheless. A graduate of Leavenworth High School and now a student halfway through the School of Advanced Military Studies, the graduate level course at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College, he said he wanted to try to teach that lesson to a new generation.
On Tuesday, Thomson organized a group of officers from his SAMS class to present to students in Leavenworth High School’s Junior ROTC program on the importance of making good choices. It’s a lesson he said he wish he would have grasped earlier.
“If I knew then what I know now, I think I would be where I am 10 years earlier,” he said.
Each of the speakers, now studying to become the Army’s top planners and advisers to general officers, had their own perspectives on the importance of having a plan, or what a successful plan even means. With a student population that incudes families at every step of the income scale and with every level of student and parent involvement, Thomson said trying to teach them now is important.
“In no way was this a recruiting-type visit,” Thomson said. “It was about making sure that you think about what’s going to make you smile as you look back and say ‘yeah, I made good choices.’”
Maj. Carol Hickley told the students during her talk that there was one lesson about choices that she learned through her experience, especially as a female officer in the military.
“You do have the right to make your own choices,” she said.
Though Hickley added that those choices might not always be easy to make — she said she once was forced to either report her commanding officer for harassing her, knowing that she would either lose friendships, or keep taking the abuse.
But making those tough decisions is partly what Maj. Mike Mays was talking about in his presentation.
“You may get thrown a curveball,” he said he planned to tell the students. “You may get thrown something that you don’t necessarily want, but make the best of every situation that you have and in the end, it’ll shape who you are as a person.”
Maj. Lucas Braxton said he wanted to impart that to some extent, he felt one of the most important lessons was not necessarily having a plan in place, but learning how to search.
“It’s OK not to know exactly what they want to do,” he said. “But what they do need to do is they need to have a plan to search, a plan to think about what they really want to do and a plan that’s fundamentally rooted in what they really want to do.”
Page 2 of 2 - Riley Young, a sophomore at Leavenworth High School, said the talks did give him some things to think about.
“(Hickely) said that the rest of the world has the right to make bad choices against you, so it definitely made me think about making the right choices,” he said.