Cadet Kenneth Golden knows what it means to work hard. He knows what it takes to be committed to personal improvement and driven to perform at the highest level. After all, only six high school tuba players in the entire state of Kansas make the state band, an accomplishment Kenneth has achieved two years in a row, and has even been invited to perform with the Kansas Wesleyan University band, a unique and prestigious accomplishment. When speaking with Cadet Golden, however, you may not learn about his natural musical talent or personal achievements. When asked about his extracurricular activities during the three years he has been enrolled in St. John’s, Cadet Golden pauses thoughtfully before adding simply,
“I’m pretty good at band.”
A more extended conversation reveals that it’s humility and not insecurity that underlies Cadet Golden’s demeanor; because Kenneth is confident. He has to be. It takes a self-assured leader to take on the role of Battalion Executive Officer—another critical responsibility in which he succeeds—and another position for which he has a natural inclination toward success.
Seeking Structure and Academic Opportunities
It has been three years since Kenneth left his aunt Dr. Amy Luedemann-Lazar’s home in Katy, Texas to move to St. John’s Military School.
“Ken has always been well-loved by his teachers,” said Luedemann-Lazar. “And even when he was drawn to classmates who were the opposite of him and would act out, he was a good influence on them and their behavior.”
Realizing her nephew’s innate potential for academic and personal success, Luedemann-Lazar feared he might not have the opportunity to explore that potential if he remained enrolled in his large high school in Katy.
“I worried that Ken needed more structure and a smaller environment where he would be more comfortable trying new things,” said Luedemann-Lazar. “I knew when he was in ninth grade that it was a pivotal time in his life and I wanted to give him the best future possible.”
Luedemann-Lazar’s search for a structured environment with a low student-to-teacher ratio led her to enroll her nephew at St. John’s.
“We knew by sending Ken to St. John’s that he would have structure, mentoring and an opportunity to shine,” said Luedemann-Lazar. “And that he would be more willing to try new things. And he has. Before St. John’s, he would have never tried out for extracurricular band opportunities, but now, he has had so much success.”
Luedemann-Lazar adds that it was also important for her to send her nephew into an environment where he would be influenced by strong male role models.
“I wanted Ken to be surrounded by men who he could see as mentors, and who would praise him when he succeeds. It is so important for young men to receive validation from other men in their lives.”
Leading the School’s Leaders
According to Luedemann-Lazar, Cadet Golden has always had a natural disposition that makes him well-suited for breaking down and solving problems, and that makes others comfortable following his direction.
“Ken has an entrepreneurial personality and a natural ability to manage others,” said Luedemann-Lazar. “I’ve seen all his life how other kids are drawn to him and the ability he has to make others comfortable. I believe his natural ability to mentor others makes him a good fit for the role of Battalion Executive Officer.”
St. John’s Commandant, Command Sergeant Major Ray Nunweiler agrees, adding,
“The Battalion Executive Officer is primarily a manager of the Battalion Staff that manages the resources available to the Corps of Cadets. Cadet Golden has the ability to put the right resource in the right place at the right time to help the Company Commanders accomplish their mission. His interpersonal skills are such an asset in this environment because of the way he can use directive leadership, participative leadership, and a combination of both styles to appropriately accomplish any task. In my opinion, Cadet Golden is the most mentally and emotionally mature Cadet in the 131st Corps of Cadets. He is also one of the most well-rounded Cadets we have on campus.”
When asked about challenges he faces in a role that requires the oversight of fellow leaders, it is with his unique brand of confident humility that Cadet Golden says simply,
“The members of the Battalion Command are my friends and brothers. If I see them not doing something they should be doing, I can be completely honest with them. And they don’t take it personally, because they know I’m right.”
Calm and Focused Leadership
Success in the role of Battalion Executive Officer requires an unshakeable leader with confidence and optimism—two qualities that define Cadet Golden’s style of leadership.
“Leadership is pushing others to success,” said Cadet Golden. “Whether it’s for themselves or a common goal. St. John’s has taught me that every problem has a solution.”
Luedemann-Lazar believes that it is also the calm demeanor that her nephew uses to earn the respect of others that allows him to succeed in his leadership responsibilities.
“Ken commands respect but not through yelling,” said Luedemann-Lazar. “It’s just the way he is. He understands boundaries. He is organized in his thoughts, has a level head, thinks well on his feet, and is a steady person—all qualities that will take him far in life.”
Looking and Leading into the Future
As Cadet Golden looks to the future, he sees the opportunities that lie ahead of him and approaches them with the same steady drive that has allowed him to be successful musically, academically, and personally during his time at St. Johns.
“I’m going to go to college and major in either physical therapy or psychology,” said Cadet Golden. “After that, I’m going to go to graduate school.”
His Aunt has every confidence that he will be successful in any field that he pursues.
“I see kids all the time of all ages, and I honestly believe that Ken could be the President of the United States,” said Luedemann-Lazar with a big smile. “There is no other kid I would say that about. He has such poise and personal intelligence. I hope he finds a vocation that makes him excited to go to work every day and that he’s passionate about. I hope that he lives up to his full potential. He has so much potential.”
As Luedemann-Lazar reflects on her decision to send her nephew to St. John’s, she is grateful for the faculty and staff who helped to put her nephew on the path to success.
“We’re just so thankful for the faculty and staff who have loved on Kenneth and helped him to see his worth,” said Luedemann-Lazar. “We are so grateful that the people at St. John’s have invested in him, and cheered him, and brought out the best in him.”