Fishers teen selected as class president, flourishes at Howe Military Academy
By Mark Ambrogi
Jenifer Bender is frequently moved to tears when she considers the transformation her son Blake has made in his two years at Howe Military Academy in northeast Indiana.
“Everyone thinks it’s a boot camp-type school, but it’s a 130-plus year-old prestigious military academy,” said Bender, a Fishers resident and single mom. “It’s focused on academics, and it’s structured for kids. It’s made a phenomenal difference for him. He was lost.”
Blake, a freshman who has a rank of first sergeant, has been chosen by JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) commander to participate in the 2017 D-Day All-National/JROTC Honor Platoon. He will serve as ambassador and will be recognized in D-Day commemoration events and a seven-day tour, June 2 to 10, in Normandy, France. Paris. Blake, the class president, was selected for his outstanding academic performance and leadership qualities. Bender said Blake suffered from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and benefits from the individual attention at Howe.
“They love these kids,” Bender said. “That makes a difference for my son who has grown up without his father (most of his life). That was hard for him. He says, ‘I have four dads up here.’ He has teachers that really want him to succeed and push him to do your best and meet your goals. As a parent, I knew he had it in him. It was just going to take the right place for him to get the self-confidence he needed.”
Bender said her son, who once hated school, is now on a college path.
“It helped me improve my leadership skills, and the teachers actually care about your academics,” Blake said.
Jodi Clouse, Howe’s director of admissions, said the maximum class size is 16, and most classes are 10 and under. Clouse said teachers stay after class for individual tutoring.
Blake, 15, has been on the drill performance and the rifle team. He made the soccer varsity team as an eighth-grader and is a two-time letterwinner. Blake is a member of the scuba team as well.
Clouse has watched Blake develop.
“He’s a huge success story here,” Clouse said.
Blake’s said his goal is to get to college in an ROTC program and then go into the military.
“They have things that make your kids grow as an individual,” Bender said. “I’ve seen so many changes in him. His self-confidence level is so much higher. He went from shy, timid to really being a leader to people and wanting to help his peers succeed.”
Because it costs approximately $5,000 for the Normandy trip, Blake has set up a Go Fund Me page at gofundme.com/sfc-bender-honor-platoon-dday-trip.
“This is once-in-a-lifetime thing he might not get again,” Bender said.