During a ceremony Wednesday afternoon, the Elkin High School JROTC promoted its new commander for the year, Cadet Lt. Col. Laken Lloyd, the unit’s fifth female leader.
Lloyd is taking the reins of commander from her brother, Grant Lloyd, who graduated in May and is now a cadet at The Citadel, where he watched Wednesday’s ceremony in Elkin live on a smartphone.
The ceremony included the uncovering and showing of the flags carried by the unit’s color guard, made up of cadets Andrea Payne, Dulce Rodriguez, Kylie Thomas, Kyley Cook and Jarryn Kelly, and then the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance, led by Cadet S1 Tanner Sturdivant.
Lloyd said she is excited for what the year brings, including new programs such as overnight trips to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and a trip to Carowinds in October. “The overnight trips are a good recruiting tool for upcoming freshmen,” she said.
The commander joined JROTC initially as a sophomore because of her brother, and since that time, she’s worked her way to the top.
As she was introduced as battalion commander by Sturdivant, he said she started off as a cadet private first class, and by the end of her first year, she was ranked cadet master sergeant. During her junior year, she became the battalion executive officer, reaching the rank of major.
Her awards and honors include the Superior Cadet Award, the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 Award and several academic excellence awards.
“I wanted to take my brothers place, because I know how hard it is and I love a challenge,” said Lloyd after her command became official. “Anything that can improve me in becoming a leader is something I want to do.”
She said the opportunity is not about being in charge or having power, instead she sees it as a chance to inspire others. “I’m more about motivating my cadets to be better citizens, especially as females, they look up to you and I want to inspire all of my cadets. I want them to know as long as they are dedicated and work hard, they can be in this position as well.”
Sturdivant explained to the school staff, family and other cadets able to attend Wednesday’s event, “A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commander to another. The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming one … ensures that the unit and its soldiers are never without official leadership, a continuation of trust and also signifies an allegiance of soldiers to their unit’s commander.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.