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Leading Lakes cadets

Retired O-5 developing the future in retirement

Lt. Col. Allen Patty, Ph.D., leads a robust Army JROTC program at Lakes High School. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Allen Patty believes that leading by example is a way to motivate and inspire young people.

"Kids need to be stimulated," said Patty, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) advisor at Lakes High School. "When they do their physical training, I do it with them."

Patty said that he "grew up with an ID card" as his father, a career Marine, went from one duty assignment to the next.

He went on to say that many of the leaders he had in the Boy Scouts and sports were former Marines.

Their presence had an impact.

"I learned from them, and I knew I wanted to serve," Patty said. "Leading by example is good in relating with these cadets."

Patty enlisted in the Army, worked hard, was accepted and graduated from New Mexico State University with a degree and a commission earned through the ROTC program.

After a quarter of a century of service, he retired, only to begin working at helping get high school students to the college level.

"You've got to find a way to engage with them," continued Patty, "because their actions are going to contribute to their outcomes in life."

In 2016, Patty, who has a doctorate in leadership studies, arrived at Lakes and began to make a difference.

For example, he requires cadets to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, (ASVAB), to get a read on what they need to study in order to prepare for enlistment.

Fit and very knowledgeable, the retired officer spends long hours at the school working with the more than 700 student cadets in the program. A 12-hour day beginning at 5 a.m. is not unusual.

While building the traditional leadership skills required of a potential soldier, Patty has also begun a CyberPatriot Team sponsored by the local Air Force Association.

"It's another way to relate to kids and the leadership roles they may take some day," he said. "The program is new, and we are in the ‘crawl' stage of the ‘crawl, walk, run' progression."

The team's growth integrates with the high school's emphasis on its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

Recently, the Army's robotics team and a new cyber security club affiliated with the Air Force visited with the cadets and other students. The visit gave cadets and students the opportunity to talk with the robotics team about how the Army develops and utilizes STEM in its many career paths.

"Developing the ability to understand systems and solve problems quickly in a stressful environment is great experience for the type of challenges students will face later in their high-tech careers," Patty said.

After finishing a class, many of the cadets hang around to either do some more physical training or to study.

"We must pay attention to them," Patty said, as he headed back toward his office."You invest your abilities and passion in them in order to engage in what is coming up behind you."

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