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High School students participate in Freedom Academy 2010

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah - Students salute the flag as it is being raised at a flag ceremony during the Utah National Guard's Freedom Academy 2010.  Students learned the importance of the flag in regards to their freedom during the week-long leadership retreat.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Hulse)

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah - Students salute the flag as it is being raised at a flag ceremony during the Utah National Guard's Freedom Academy 2010. Students learned the importance of the flag in regards to their freedom during the week-long leadership retreat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Hulse)

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah -- Walk past the Officer's Club at Camp Williams at the beginning of August and you are bound to hear it blasting with pop music and laughter. Ninety-two high school seniors from 50 schools statewide spent a week at Camp Williams at the Utah National Guard's 49th annual Freedom Academy August 1-6.

Freedom Academy began in 1961 with three student delegates. Now, almost 50 years later, it has grown into one of the largest leadership retreats in the state of Utah. This year's program, sponsored by the Honorary Colonels, included student delegates who had the opportunity to learn about freedoms through visits to locations like the state Capitol Building, prison, a local news station and Utah Air and Army National Guard bases.

Capt. Bruce Lewis from the 151st Air Refueling Wing said that the focus for the week was on educating delegates about the National Guard and their dual role in the meaning of freedom.

All participating students are current high school seniors, and many are student body leaders who have a great amount of influence in their schools.

Lt. Col. David Osborne, 151st Maintenance Squadron commander, said that he hoped the students would take the new information back to their schools by holding a "Freedom assembly" or "Freedom Week" to introduce their peers to the things that they had learned that they may not have considered before.

During Freedom Academy , students spend the week learning about military tradition, with each student getting the opportunity to participate in a flag ceremony each morning. Students also learned how to properly carry out a flag burning ceremony and retire the flag correctly.

"If you watch these kids the first day when we do the flag ceremony, you really watch their posture, the way they stand, and the way they conduct themselves," said Captain Lewis. "If you really pay attention at the end of the week, you start to notice that their posture changes...and it's pretty awesome to see. You see their whole attitude change."

"This whole week has been a learning week," said Kati Briggs, a senior at Pleasant Grove High School. "We've learned about the different freedoms that we have and the people that protect it and what they do and stand for."

Delegates were given the opportunity to learn to work as teams by completing the Leadership Reaction Course, and were also given opportunities to see a little more into the National Guard activity.

"It's a great week," said Captain Lewis. "We really get behind the meaning of what the kids are learning and what this is all about. That's why it's fun."