Coahulla Creek High senior addresses school board, plans to 'protect our nation'

Sep. 14—The Monday meeting of the Whitfield County Board of Education began with remarks from Coahulla Creek High student Alexander Andrews.

The senior class president participated in the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Maryland prior to the start of the new school year.

"Which is a weeklong course," Andrews recounted before members of the school board. "At the Summer Seminar, on the very first day, I'm put in a place where I've never been before — there's 850 kids in the battalion, I know no one there."

His second day in the program, he received a knock on his door at 5:30 a.m.

"We rushed out to this massive football field, where I'm sitting there — face in the dirt, doing pushups — and I really start to think to myself 'What am I doing here?'" he recalled. "There's a million other things I could be doing, but why am I here?"

The answer, he said, is simple — because it's all part of achieving his lifelong goal.

"To be a midshipman, to be an officer, to join the Navy and to protect our nation," Andrews said. "So it's in that moment that I realized that I can't quit, because quitting has only one outcome — failure."

Andrews said he's well aware that some of his classmates intend on taking things easy in the 12th grade.

"But I've never really been the person to just chillax," he said. "I like to push myself and be a motivator and continue to push on."

That's evident by his itinerary. Among other activities, he's involved with Coahulla Creek's mock trial, cross country and tennis teams.

"I even go to Dalton State (College) to take classes," he said.

He called to mind that old Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken" — one of his mother's favorites.

"I don't want to take the road that most seniors take," he said. "I want to be the one who makes a difference because the difference will pay off in the end."

He noted the significance of the date of the school board meeting.

"It's an important day in our nation's history, not only for myself, but for the military and the United States," he said. "I plan to commission as a submarine officer, just as my father was a submariner — in the reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, he took place in one of the first battle groups to launch missiles into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Andrews said he wanted to pick up where his father left off.

"I assure all of you, each and every one of you in this building, that I will do my best to defend our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic," he said. "The next time you're in prayer, I'd like you to think about the young men and women who protect us from sea to shining sea."

Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Mike Ewton said he was deeply moved by Andrews' commitment.

"We've had a volunteer military for at least the last 40-plus years, 50 years," he said. "So it's people like Alex who are going to maintain our freedom, so we should all be grateful."