Richwoods High School students one of four Legion of Valor winners in the U.S.

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The Richwoods High School Marine Corps JROTC program has been designated a Naval Honor School, ranking it in the top ten percent of MCJROTC programs nationally, and Cadet Captain Shreeya Pattekar, an RHS senior, was selected as one of four Legion of Valor winners in the country.

Pattekar is the first student in the history of the RHS MCJROTC program to win the Legion of Valor, the highest honor a cadet can win.

The RHS MCJROTC program’s two instructors, First Sergeant Shawn Martin and Gunnery Sergeant Miguel Chavez said Pattekar is an amazing leader.

Richwood’s program has grown 79 cadets to nearly 180 cadets in two years. Pattekar, as Cadet Commander is responsible for all of the cadets. She wakes up as early as 5 a.m. to lead physical training and dedicates a lot of her time to community service during the week and on the weekends. The focus of the program, Martin explains, is building discipline, teamwork and leadership skills and performing community service.

Recently, the city of Peoria requested assistance for a disabled veteran whose yard had become dangerously overgrown and a code violation. The cadets spent a rainy week cleaning two dumpsters worth of weeds, brush and trash from the yard. This summer, once pandemic restrictions were lifted, the cadets prepared and served meals to the homeless at Neighborhood House.

Each school nationally also nominates one cadet to be named a Legion of Valor winner in their region. Pattekar submitted her academic transcripts, records of volunteer hours and ROTC awards, and letters of recommendations, including one by Congressman Darin LaHood. Legion of Valor winners are selected by a board consisting of three-star Marine Corps officers or retired officers.

Pattekar is humble, but her sergeants said she is a true gem to the program.

“When it comes about leadership and just being a great human being I would put her up against anybody in the sense she genuinely cares about the program, cares about those that she leads and that ultimately is what makes people want to follow you,” First Sgt. Shawn Martin said.

Pattekar gives most credit to the sergeants for pushing her to be her best self. She said she is excited and honored to have been chosen for the award.

“In a good way it was overwhelming, it made me feel like I did something good with my life so far,” Pattekar said.

After high school Pattekar said she plans to attend college. Her sergeants said some people have been encouraging her to go to military academy.

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