From her first day, Maj. Charles Kelly Jr. knew Stephanie Grove was going to go far.
“Her attitude was impressive and she just got better and better,” said Kelly, who runs the North Forsyth High School Marine Corps JROTC program. “She’s really taken off and soared like a rocket.”
For her academics, leadership and abilities, Grove was nominated by Kelly for the JROTC Legion of Valor Bronze Cross Medal.
Grove described receiving it is “a huge honor because this medal is the highest a cadet could ever be given.” It is presented annually to just one student in the Southeast.
“That means she is the top-rated cadet from North Carolina to Florida to as far west as Mississippi,” Kelly said. “This kid excels all the way across the board.”
But Kelly wasn’t surprised with Grove’s natural strength. Her brother, Christopher, earned the distinction last year and now attends the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“This is the first brother-sister team to receive this distinguished award in back-to-back years,” Kelly said.
It meant a lot to Grove to follow her brother. “I was really happy that we could share that,” she said.
In addition to maintaining a 4.2 grade-point average, the rising senior is on three different national honor societies, runs cross country and will serve as captain of the girl’s lacrosse team this year.
“I just like to push myself to do everything that I can,” she said. “I think that I was selected because of all the hard work I put into everything I do in ROTC and in school and I just care a lot about the program.”
She is the third cadet from North in the past four years to earn the medal.
“We have good kids,” Kelly said. “But each and every time [Grove] was given a task or afforded the opportunity to excel, she did. And we’ve got some really, really good kids at North, she just had a little extra oomph.”
Kelly said Grove is a natural leader who was a natural fit for the award. She has been an integral member of the JROTC drill, color guard and fitness teams, as well as the cadet battalion commander for the nearly 300 cadets in the program.
“And I don’t think the kid’s ever made a ‘B’ in her life,” he said. “This kid excels all the way across the board.”
Grove said she’s not sure yet about if she plans to follow her brother’s military ambitions.
“I want to go to college and play lacrosse and I want to get a mathematics degree and maybe teach with it,” she said.