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Virtual ALS graduates next generation of leaders

Airman Leadership School officials held a virtual graduation ceremony here for 10 junior enlisted members Dec. 17.

Airman Leadership School officials held a virtual graduation ceremony here for 10 junior enlisted members Dec. 17. During the five-week professional military education course, students attended lessons via Zoom and completed all course work online. ALS prepares students to become first-line supervisors. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Lance Beebe)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Airman Leadership School officials held a virtual graduation ceremony here for 10 junior enlisted members Dec. 17.

During the five-week professional military education course, students attended lessons via Zoom and completed all course work online. ALS prepares students to become first-line supervisors.

“ALS has equipped me with supervisory skills that I have already begun to use to help Airman in my work center,” said Senior Airman Gabriela Riccardi, assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Senior Airman Tyler Turner called the course a “great stepping stone in our professional development.”

“We were taken out of our comfort zone and are walking away with an entirely new perspective as military members,” said Turner, a member of the 66th Security Forces Squadron.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Chip Melleby, Coast Guard Sector Boston command senior, was the class mentor and guest speaker for the virtual graduation ceremony.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the students on how the course was going, identify their goals and expectations, and discuss the organizational shift they will make as they become supervisors and leaders,” he said.

The Hanscom AFB-based Airman Leadership School offers area Coast Guard units seats in the leadership course.

“I am extremely grateful and appreciative for the opportunity our junior petty officers have to participate in Airman Leadership School and believe the joint exposure provides a benefit to all the students as they embark on their careers as enlisted leaders,” Melleby said.

Master Sgt. Brandon McCarty, the school’s commandant, said since moving to a virtual environment, students play a greater role in planning their graduation ceremony, which creates a more personal experience.

“One of the unexpected results of ALS going virtual is how we have been able to support students way outside of our usual area of responsibility,” said McCarty,

During the virtual ceremony, school officials announced the names of three Airmen who received awards.

The school’s top award, the John L. Levitow Award, went to Senior Airman Christopher Allen, a member of the 66th Security Forces Squadron. This award goes to the student who achieves the highest overall standing from a combination of academic scores, performance evaluation and leadership qualities. It's the highest honor awarded to an enlisted professional military education student.

The Academic Achievement Award went to Turner. This award goes to the student who achieves the highest summative scores throughout the class and who displays characteristics of an effective leader. The recipient also must have fostered teamwork within the training environment.

Senior Airman Anthony Nocella, a member of the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office Northeast at Hanscom, received the Commandant Award. This award goes to the student who displays all the characteristics of a leader. Once all other factors are considered, the ALS commandant renders the final judgment on who receives this award.

Other students who completed the course:

Senior Airman Joseph Ciampa, 212th Engineering Installation Squadron, Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts

Maritime Enforcement Specialist Jayson Kitts, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Southeast New England, Falmouth, Massachusetts

Senior Airman Tea Moulton-Childs, 212th Engineering Installation Squadron, Otis ANGB, Mass.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Rodriguez, U.S. Coast Guard Base Cape Cod, Buzzards Bay, Mass.

Senior Airman Joshua Sanchez, U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigation, Detachment 4

Senior Airman Austin Scott, 66th Security Forces Squadron

Each graduate earned the U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer professional military education graduation ribbon.