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R-MA Senior Named One of Top Cadets in Nation


Benjamin Kopjanski ‘20 has been named one of the top cadets in the nation by the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMCSUS). The AMCSUS Leadership Award recognizes two high school cadets and two college cadets annually, providing a $1,000 scholarship for each cadet. The award recipients are acknowledged as well-rounded cadets who excel in the areas of leadership, character, service, academics, and athletics.  

Ben has been at Randolph-Macon Academy since the eighth grade, and as the award would indicate, he has built up an impressive resumé for himself. His considerable leadership skills have been put to use in the Air Force Junior ROTC Unit VA-091, where he is the Deputy Group Commander (i.e., the second in command of all 190 students). “He has operationalized the Deputy Commander role for considerable value and leadership dimension,” R-MA Commandant LtCol Michael C. Starling ‘88, USMC, Retired, wrote on Ben’s nomination form. In addition, Ben has also served as captain of the cross country team, treasurer of the National Spanish Honor Society, and sergeant-at-arms for the Honor Council. 

Ben’s focus on academic success has been proven with a weighted GPA over 4.0, numerous academic awards, and membership in three different national honor societies. He has performed over 154 hours of community service, serving as a camp counselor and a National Honor Society tutor, and serving an internship with Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas. His high school sports have included golf, wrestling, cross country, and swimming. He has earned varsity letters in all four, and has been the recipient of the Coaches’ Award in every sport except for wrestling. He also has received the “Most Improved” Award for golf and the “Most Outstanding Contributor” Award in cross-country.  

It may have been LtCol Starling’s write-up of Ben’s character that set this young man apart from the other nominees for the AMCSUS Leadership Award. He described Ben as “peerless,” and went on to write, “He enjoys standing for truth and right…. His maturity…and his self-discipline, teamwork, humility and respect for others combine for an effective and endearing leadership style. He has earned the trust and respect of his peers and the adult staff and faculty alike.” In conclusion, LtCol Starling wrote, “Ben Kopjanski represents the most complete military school leader: impeccable integrity and character, courageous leader of his peers, deep respect and capacity for education, open-hearted to serve others, and a specimen of fitness who hungers for physical challenge.” 

The award was announced at the annual AMCSUS Conference on February 24, 2020. Each award recipient submitted a video of thanks to the Association. “During my time here on ‘The Hill,’ I have been inspired by the best mentors a cadet could ever have,” Ben stated in his video. “The teachers, faculty, and staff of R-MA have supported me through my journey here, and opened my eyes to opportunities I would never otherwise have seen.” He went on to recognize his family as the greatest influence on his life. “My mother and siblings are the pillars of my life, instilling in me the core values that I live by,” he said.