By Scott Prater
Schriever Airmen collected a dominate share of awards during the most recent Airman Leadership School graduation ceremony.
Senior Airman Kristina Robinson, 50th Comptroller Squadron, captured her instructors’ and classmates’ admiration, earning the Levitow award as the class’ top performer Nov. 19, while Senior Airman Taren Rice, 50th Force Support Squadron, snagged the Leadership award and Senior Airman Daria Blevins, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, earned the Distinguished Graduate honor.
This latest class included 26 Airman who represented Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson AFB, the United States Air Force Academy, Fort Carson and Schriever, with awards going to just four.
To earn the Levitow award, named for Medal of Honor winner John L. Levitow, an Airman must demonstrate both academic excellence and leadership qualities during the course. The winner is decided by a survey of classmembers and is the highest award an Airman can receive in Professional Military Education.
“I didn’t really think I was doing anything out of the norm,” Airman Robinson said. “I just went in and took care of business. I was surprised only because the people I work with know my abilities. They know where I’m strong and weak, but those people (at ALS) didn’t know me. The fact that they picked me was awesome and it showed that I was able to carry abilities over to another playing field.”
Airman Leadership School is a required course for senior airmen who have earned a promotion to staff sergeant, and is taught by instructors at Peterson AFB.
“ALS is a leadership course,” said Master Sgt. Tami Toma, commandant of Peterson AFB Airman Leadership School. “It is designed to teach Airmen to lead both at home and at deployed locations. We train them to lead teams of any kind.”
The six-week classroom style course requires students to give three speeches and three interpersonal counseling sessions. Instructors take students through specific scenarios and teach in the guided discussion format.
“Airman Robinson was very helpful to students,” Sergeant Toma said. “She had a maturity about her and she offered assistance when they needed it. I remember her keeping them on track and on discussion during the class.”
Sergeant Toma weighed in directly for Airman Rice’s award.
Classmembers were asked to list the three peers they believed demonstrated the highest level of leadership during the course. Votes were tallied for both flights and the winners from each flight then met with the ALS staff board, which decided the Leadership Award winner.
“(Airman Rice) was very articulate, honest and open during our questioning,” Sergeant Toma said. “She organized study groups and demonstrated that high level of maturity as well.”
As it turned out, her classmates appreciated her efforts when it came to study techniques.
“The exams were harder than I imagined they would be,” Airman Rice said. “I was pretty much just trying to make sure everyone passed, so I made flash cards and invited everyone to study. We even went to class an hour early and quizzed each other.”
While it’s important to note that Schriever Airmen earned 75 percent of the awards at the latest ALS, those same airmen understand that the focus of ALS is to prepare tomorrow’s leaders.
“I think the main thing that struck a chord with me was the whole idea of being an expeditionary airman,” Airman Robinson said. “We have to be technically, physically, mentally, spiritually and physically ready at a moment’s notice.”