Freshmen cadets teach James Simons elementary school children about heroes and help them make cards

As the morning mist was still rising from Summerall Field, more than 1,000 cadets waited to board buses heading to more than 40 locations across the South Carolina Lowcountry. Their mission: learning to lead by first learning how to serve.

Cadets board buses on Leadership Day 2018
Cadets board buses on Leadership Day 2018

Some of the work was hot.

Leadership Day, Sea Island Habitat for Humanity project on James Island
Leadership Day, Sea Island Habitat for Humanity project on James Island

Some of it was dirty.

Cadet working on foundation for Habitat home
Cadet working on foundation for Sea Island Habitat for Humanity home

But whether it was the more than 50 cadets helping build homes for veterans through Sea Island Habitat for Humanity,

Cadets cleaning up Hampton Park
Cadets cleaning up Hampton Park

…or the dozens wrestling invasive vines at The Citadel’s neighboring Hampton Park,

Citadel cadets join Military Magnet Academy cadets for a review parade
Citadel cadets join Military Magnet Academy cadets for a review parade

…or lined up for review with much smaller cadets, or the many teaching children about heroes at more than 20 elementary schools around Charleston, most agree Leadership Day is one of the best days in the life of a cadet.

James Simons elementary student enjoys pretending to be a cadet while making a card for her hero
James Simons elementary student enjoys pretending to be a cadet while making a card for her hero

“Many of us volunteer at another times of the year, but it is great to get out and get to know people in our community – away from campus,” said Cadet Logan Miller, Regimental Public Affairs Officer. “The volunteer work seems easy when we all do it together and know we are making someone else’s life maybe just a little bit better.”

According to their teachers, Leadership Day is a memorable one for the hundreds of children who learn from the cadets too.

“I want to a hero too. I might be a football player and if that doesn’t happen I’ll be a basketball player, or I’ll be an Army man like my grandfather, or I have a backup plan to be somebody that kind of stands up for other people.” T.S. 3rd grade student at James Simons Elementary

Setting his own example of servant-leadership, the college’s president Gen. Glenn Walters took part, sharing the story of one of his heroes, Pfc. Ralph A Johnson, who was killed during the Vietnam War while saving others.

Gen. Walters talks about one of his heros with school children on Leadership Day

He also gave sophomore cadets an inspiring send off for their day to be spent leading freshmen.

Citadel president Gen. Glenn Walters teaching juniors about leadership and ethics
Citadel president Gen. Glenn Walters teaching juniors about leadership and ethics

For seniors, some of Charleston’s most influential business leaders welcome them at their locations for a day of learning, including Blackbaud…

Cadets learning about leadership and ethics at Blackbaud
Cadets learning about leadership and ethics at Blackbaud

…the Gibbes Museum of Art, and more than ten other locations.

Gibbes Museum of Art welcomes cadets for a day of learning how to run a museum
Gibbes Museum of Art welcomes cadets for a day of learning how to run a museum

But really, it is the gift the community gives to The Citadel by welcoming cadets, faculty and staff and giving them the chance to learn and to serve that makes the biggest difference.

Gen. Glenn Walters, President of The Citadel, poses for a picture with (Left to Right) Tahlayjah Butler 2nd grade, Airriona Scriven 2nd grade and Shanese Holmes 3rd grade, at James Simons School in Charleston, SC., Wednesday, October 17, 2018, as part of The Citadel’s Leadership Day activities.