This year’s senior class at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville represent the leadership, academic excellence and athletic prowess the college preparatory boarding school prides itself on.
Cadet David “Parker” Brobst, for example, has held many leadership roles since enrolling as a freshman in 2015, including leading a charge of 60 cadets.
This school year, Brobst has served as the chairman of the academy’s honor council.
“I think it played a good role,” he said of working up to this position of leadership among his peers.
Stories of seniors from each Gainesville and Hall school are collected in this class of 2019 section.
The honor council, for example, is about help as much as punishment, Brobst said.
Brobst came to Riverside from Jupiter, Fla., where had attended public school.
But the size of the high school he would attend, a student body Brobst estimated at more than 3,000, felt overwhelming.
“I was kind of falling through the cracks in the system,” he said.
His struggles were compounded by dyslexia, a common learning disability that affects reading, writing and spelling comprehension.
The opportunity to lead at Riverside, however, has given Brobst new confidence.
“You learn how to advocate for yourself,” he said, “to get out there and find your own way.”
It’s also had a direct impact on Brobst’s academic performance.
“I’m not a D, C student anymore,” he said. “I’m an A, B student.”
Brobst will enroll at the Virginia Military Institute this fall. He plans to study electrical engineering, but also intends to serve in the military before life in the civilian world.
For now, he’s enjoying the relationships he’s developed among his peers.
“I don’t call them friends, I call them brothers,” Brobst said.
Cadet Shinkwang Moon is Riverside’s 2019 valedictorian and he’ll enroll at West Point this fall, following in the footsteps of two older brothers who also attended the army military academy in New York.
“I saw my brothers go through it,” he said about his readiness for the challenge.
Moon first arrived at Riverside his sophomore year in 2016 from a public school in Washington State, where his family resides.
He admits the change in geography was a bit of a culture shock, but “over time I was able to distinguish myself in (an academic) manner. If I can set an example for the younger kids, that’s a good thing.”
Though Riverside instills the discipline and routines of military life in its students, only a handful of graduates each year go on to attend a military academy like Moon.
Moon’s decision to serve is not just a matter of family tradition, however.
“A lot of it stems from my family values,” he said. “My parents always taught me to live for something greater than yourself.”
Moon said in the long term he could see himself in civilian life exploring the many things that “intrigue” him, such as history, math and science.
“What I need to do is start narrowing down,” he said with a smirk.
Like Moon, Cadet Isaac Teasley also matriculated to Riverside his sophomore year.
But Teasley is a Gainesville native, which makes him unique.
Riverside has more than 500 cadets representing about 30 states and 30 countries.
“I’ve told people a little about here,” Teasley said about his role as “ambassador” of Gainesville to his fellow cadets. “But I love to learn, so I’ve learned a lot from them. I’ve learned a lot more than I can tell.”
That humble refrain belies Teasley’s accomplishments in the classroom, especially in the sciences, and on the track, where he’s a star athlete.
“This school has been a home and a place for me to grow,” Teasley said.
For example, he added, his coaches have helped him evolve from an “average athlete into a state champion.”
Teasley won the 400-meter race at the 2018 state championships, took second place in a relay, third in the 200 meters and second in the triple-jump.
“When you put the work in, you shouldn’t be nervous,” he said.