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'I really just wanted to help people.' James Michael Harrison is leaving Lakeview with a full-ride Citadel scholarship
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Lakeview Academy's James Michael Harrison - photo by Scott Rogers

A combination of outstanding academic achievement, discipline and a call to service is what landed Lakeview senior James Michael Harrison a prestigious full-ride scholarship to The Citadel military academy in South Carolina.

“I decided I wanted to serve a couple years back, and I wanted to go to a military college for the military experience,” the 18-year-old Eagle Scout said. “I really just wanted to help people, and I thought the military was a good way to do that.”

Harrison said he plans to commission in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation from The Citadel but hasn’t decided exactly what he’d like to do once he joins.

Beyond a rigorous course schedule, Harrison competed on Lakeview’s football and soccer teams, as well as swim team in his senior year. He is a leader at his church and in student organizations and balanced part-time work at Harrison Oil & Tire, founded by his grandfather and owned by his father.

Staff at his school described him as “one of the most outstanding leaders in the Class of 2021 at Lakeview Academy.” He’s been recognized all four years of high school for his ability to participate in three sports, while remaining on the honor roll, and was also a member of various clubs and honor societies in school.

Harrison said his time management skills came with practice, but he’s found a schedule that works for him, segmenting his time day by day and planning around sport events and practices. When he’s not in class, competing for the Lakeview teams or at church, he said you can find him and friends hanging out on Lake Lanier.

Harrison said he credits his parents with instilling the importance of giving “a little extra” in everything he does. 

“Whenever I was younger, it was always, ‘Give 110%, no matter what,’” he said, adding that his dad was his main role model. “So I’ve always pushed myself to be 110%. When you grow up like that, that’s just how you stay.”

And Harrison said he had to put his determination to the test when COVID-19 shut down many normal school operations and even classes. He said the main challenge it presented for him was taking classes online. 

Especially when teachers were adjusting to online instruction, Harrison said he had to devote more time to understanding a subject and studying. Plus, he said, sporting events were canceled and school traditions had to be altered.

The school did its best, Harrison said, to still make those traditions part of his senior class’ experience, though they wouldn’t be the same. But, he added, that’s not what was most important about his school career. He said he’ll look back fondly on the support from the school community and the obvious care his teachers had for him and other students, especially when times were tough.

The pandemic also offered lessons, Harrison said, namely, to recognize the importance of the relationships with the friends that before may have been taken for granted.

And though he’ll miss the friends he won’t get to see as often when he heads off to school in South Carolina, Harrison said he’s excited to get out of the house, enter a new chapter of his life, face new challenges and begin serving his community and country.

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Lakeview Academy's James Michael Harrison - photo by Scott Rogers