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Tradition on display as Riverside Military Academy ceremony welcomes new president
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Retired U.S. Army Col. Stanley C. “Stas” Preczewski, new Riverside Military Academy president, salutes during the playing of the "Star-spangled Banner" Friday, March 29, 2019, at Maginnis Field during a change of command ceremony at the private Gainesville school. - photo by Scott Rogers

Though retired U.S. Army Col. Stanley C. “Staś” Preczewski officially took the helm as Riverside Military Academy’s 10th president on March 1, the school doesn’t take liberties with tradition.

So, on Friday, March 29, about 530 cadets in parade uniforms marched out to Maginnis Field on the school’s campus in Gainesville to greet Preczewski with an overture fit for the duty and service a military academy and college preparatory school demands.

The students’ families, visiting for Spring Parents Day, filled the bleachers while the drum rolls and marching orders and tight formations built momentum for the “Change of Command” ceremony.

The military tradition signified the transfer of authority between interim president Lt. Col. James Spivey and Preczewski. Spivey had been serving since the departure in May of Col. William Gallagher.

With Spivey’s tour of duty at an end, the outgoing commander handed over the colors and flag of Riverside to Preczewski, but not before he took his salute from the cadets and thanked his supporters.

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Riverside Military Academy President Stanley C. “Stas” Preczewski, right, takes the Riverside Military Academy flag from board of trustees member Rusty Griffin Friday, March 29, 2019, during a change of command ceremony from interim President Lt. Col. James Spivey to Preczewski. - photo by Scott Rogers

“I thank you for believing in an institution that tries to instill warrior spirit,” Spivey told the audience. “We try to put a little grit in these boys’ gut. It involves getting knocked down and getting our knees scuffed up sometimes.”

But it pays off when they stick with it, Spivey said, describing the perseverance of this year’s soccer team after its successful rebound from a tough early season loss.

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Riverside Military Academy interim President Lt. Col. James Spivey remarks Friday, March 29, 2019, at Maginnis Field during the school's official change of command ceremony. - photo by Scott Rogers

When Preczewski addressed the audience, he acknowledged the value that teamwork brings to Riverside’s success.  

“In this regard, Riverside is truly blessed as it is situated in the progressive and supportive city of Gainesville and county of Hall,” Preczewski said.

The students, who Preczewski said have families, faculty and community members making sacrifices for them, are what brought him to Riverside.  

“They are the sole reason I accepted this job,” Preczewski added.

He previously served as president at Georgia Gwinnett College before coming to the Gainesville college-preparatory boarding school.

Preczewski was named the new president of Riverside Military on Oct. 11, 2018, and he has already been serving on the school’s board of trustees.

Preczewski served 26 years in the U.S. Army, retiring in 2006. His awards and decorations include two Legion of Merit awards, four Meritorious Service Medals and the Army Commendation Medal, among others.

The student body at Riverside represents 28 states and 25 nations, which Preczewski said reflects the respect the academy has “for the strength that diversity brings to complex problem resolution.”

Preczewski said students will learn the discipline and character traits at Riverside that they need in the global economy and society America leads.

This year’s senior class has earned a record $6 million in collegiate scholarships, Preczewski said. And, as is the case almost every year, several students have been accepted into military colleges.

“The Riverside chain continues from graduating class to graduating class,” Preczewski said.

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New Riverside Military Academy President Retired U.S. Army Col. Stanley C. “Stas” Preczewski speaks Friday, March 29, 2019, at Maginnis Field during a change of command ceremony. - photo by Scott Rogers