Thomson High School senior Michael Rogers was awarded STAR Student for McDuffie County at last week’s meeting of the Thomson Rotary Club. Shown (from left) are Rotarian Julie Langham; Rogers; First Sgt. James Jennings, STAR Teacher; and Mychele Rhodes, superintendent of McDuffie County Schools.

Thomson High School's STAR student Michael Rogers appears to be a modern Renaissance man. He is both an athlete and a scholar, as well as a burgeoning leader.

Rogers, who was named STAR student during a Rotary Club event last week, was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The THS senior was notified of his acceptance to the prestigious military institution on Dec. 23, 2019.

To earn a STAR student nomination, graduating high school seniors must be in the top 10 percent of their class based on grade point average and have earned the highest SAT score in a single test date, according to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). PAGE is the organization that has sponsored the STAR program for more than 60 years.

Rogers named First Sgt. James Jennings, his NJROTC Naval Science Instructor, as his STAR teacher.

"He's influenced me the  most in my pathway," Rogers said.

Jennings encouraged Rogers to take the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). After the two had further conversations, Rogers joined NJROTC in his junior year. He then decided he wanted to be commissioned as an officer, though his high score of 96 on the ASVAB would have guaranteed he could enlist in the military upon graduation and hold any job he wished.

Rogers holds the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Junior Grade. He has completed the NJROTC unit-level training at Parris Island and a week-long leadership academy training.

Rogers said his NJROTC experiences have helped him "look at the big picture," adapt to various situations and focus on helping  others. The graduating senior says more students should consider joining the military, but acknowledges that the military "isn't for everyone."

"It's difficult and demanding," he said. Rogers suggests that if a young person intends to join the military, that they consider becoming an officer, either through higher education or through OCS (Officer Candidate School) if they are an enlisted service member. The STAR student admitted he had considered applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy, but decided the Navy was a better fit for him.

“I’m looking to be a surface warfare officer right now,” he said.

Rogers credits his parents, mother Kristen Bradley, stepfather Steven Bradley and father Rodney Thomson, for supporting him in his goals and desire to serve. Rogers is following in the footsteps of his stepfather who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and his father who served in the U.S. Army.

Rogers told the Progress he will begin his "Plebe Summer" at the Naval Academy in late June. All incoming Naval Academy freshmen attend a Plebe Summer, he said. The summer training is meant to give USNA students a solid foundation when starting their four-year academic career according to the school's website.

Rogers said he wants to study aeronautical engineering when he attends college this fall. He will work toward his Bachelors of Science degree. Rogers said his favorite subjects are literature and  history. He modestly downplayed his high school athletic career which includes competing in cross country, track and soccer.

The Progress will profile the STAR student or students from Warren County in an upcoming edition.

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