STUDENTS | September 9, 2021
AJ has only been a student at Air Force Academy High School (AFAHS) for a few weeks, but he already feels confident that his high school experiences will prepare him well to enter the Air Force himself one day. He attributes his decision to enroll at AFAHS mainly to support from his family—everything from pep talks from his mom to encouragement from his grandpa.
“When you are making an important choice, you have to talk to people that are going to encourage you,” he said. “At the same time, you don’t want to be too dependent on your family because it’s high school. It’s a new chapter in your life that you need to experience on your own.”
He explains that AFAHS did a great job of easing him into the newest chapter of his life through robust summer programs that helped him gain familiarity with the school and his peers. While he admits that he was extremely nervous at first to be entering high school, a few weeks of summer programming were all it took to help him feel more comfortable.
One memory from the summer that he knows he’ll always remember was a field trip to pilot planes as part of the school’s Freshman Connection program.
“The experience was a bit unnerving at first, but then we got to eat a great meal and explore the different planes and what each part of a plane does,” he said. “And then we got into groups. My group went into this silver jet that had air conditioning, and I was in the front seat with the pilot and even got to help control the plane a little bit.”
Now that the school year has started and he’s back in the classroom five days each week, AJ is quickly learning that succeeding academically in high school will require an extra level of effort, especially when it comes to the advanced classes that are on his schedule this year like geometry. He’s quick to remind his peers that seeking out help is one of the best steps they can take to improve their performance.
“I’m Filipino, and a lot of people seem to think that if you’re Asian, you don’t need any help,” he said. “That’s not true. To succeed in high school, you’re going to need tutoring, and you’re going to need to admit when you don’t know something. If you don’t take advantage of the people that are here to help you, then what’s the point of it all?”
AJ believes that there is a “Hollywood” influence that typically makes high school seem appealing for a variety of reasons: sports, relationships, and other factors that connect to the “now” rather than the future. In his opinion, AFAHS—and its associated AFJROTC program—is helping him work toward a successful future.
He hopes to move up in the ranks of the AFJROTC program by behaving, getting good grades, and even keeping his uniform unwrinkled. These steps connect back to a larger goal of his to make a good impression on everyone around him.
“When you think about making a good impression, most people will say that it’s important to get straight As and be active in the classroom, but they seem to forget about the social side of things as well,” he said. “I’m already acquainted with a lot of people, and you’ve just got to be friendly and act nice, and things will go smoothly.”
With his freshman year off to a good start, AJ says that he’s going to start researching different opportunities that he can pursue now to help him work toward his dream of one day being in the Air Force Reserve. While some things—such as having sophomores in his geometry class—have been surprising, he feels that he is where he is meant to be.
“I would say my first few days of high school have been pretty expected,” he said. “People say that it’s going to be hard, and they’re right. They say there’s going to be new experiences, and they’re right. It’s high school, and I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen.”