Leadership training prepares cadets for promotionOct 04, 2021 12:07PM ● By Jet Burnham
Emily Olson is a leader in Providence Hall High School’s NJROTC company. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Butikofer.)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Madeline Feltenberger, a junior at Providence Hall High School, was one of 67 students worldwide who was selected to attend General Tommy Franks’ Four Star Leadership program held in Oklahoma this summer.
PHHS NJROTC instructor Lieutenant Commander LCDR (Ret) Nathan Butikofer has had just a few of his cadets accepted into the program. He said each one has applied what they learned to their role in NJROTC in different ways but one common attribute is that they come away with an understanding that being a good leader takes effort, knowledge, being an example, and taking ownership.
“The immediate goal of sending these students to these leadership workshops is to develop their ability to lead others in our JROTC unit,” Butikofer said. “The long term goal is to give them enough practical experience in leading others in high school that they are already familiar with good leadership principles and can immediately make an impact as a leader in whatever profession they choose upon graduation.”
The Four Star Leadership Program emphasizes the leadership skills of character, common vision, communication and caring through classes, speakers and speech and writing scholarship competitions.
Feltenberger said one of the main messages was to not take any opportunity for granted. She is grateful for the lessons she learned at the week-long program and is eager to share what she’s learned with her company.
“I'm really excited to be able to help those cadets or students younger than me grow into those leadership positions,” she said.
Feltenberger learned from a variety of speakers, such as an Olympic medalist, a White House spokesman, a retired lieutenant governor and General Tommy Franks (Ret.). She said they emphasized the importance of communication and dedication.
“If you're dedicated then you'll go a lot farther because you'll be willing to learn and willing to put in that time and effort,” Felteberger said. “With NJROTC, there's some kids who are just in it and some kids who really dedicate their all to it, who end up rising to the top.” She is one of the latter. “A lot of my free time is taken up with NJROTC because I really love the unit, and I really pour a lot of myself into it.”
This is Feltenberger’s third year in the NJROTC program at PHHS. She has risen quickly in leadership positions and is currently the Senior Chief Petty Officer with responsibilities as unarmed drill captain, supply officer and officer in charge of scheduling. She hopes to be promoted to a top leadership position in the company next year.
“Madeline has a presence about her that other students seem to recognize and follow,” Butikofer said. “Her experiences as a drill team commander for our unarmed drill team helped her develop that ability to put aside shyness and reticence and take charge. I am also impressed with the way she follows up with a group. When her group comes to consensus on a decision, she ensures the group follows through with what they agreed to do.”
Feltenberger’s commanding officer, Emily Olson, said she is a good officer.
“She is very dedicated to everything that she does and she puts in a lot of work,” Olson said. “She knows her stuff. And she's also very good with people, charismatic and very assertive.”
Olson, a senior this year, attended the Four Star training (virtually) in the summer of 2020. Since then, she has risen to become the company commanding officer, the top leadership position of the unit.
Olson said she integrates a lot of what she learned in the training into her leadership role within the company, including implementing officer training based on the principles she learned at Four Star, specifically the importance of character.
“It’s important because leaders are setting the example for their followers,” said Olson, who is the example to the 50 cadets in the PHHS company.
Butikofer said Olson is a good leader because she takes time to do things right, whether it is researching to have the correct information to answer someone’s question or checking the manual to ensure things are being done correctly.