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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — A quality education — that’s why Cmdr. Ed Harter brought his family to Okinawa.

Before receiving orders as the officer in charge of the Naval Air Pacific Repair Activity on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Harter was at his 20-year mark and was set to retire. But since his aerospace engineering job field is small, he said the Navy asked him what they could do to keep him around.

“I said, ‘get me to Okinawa.’ ” His reason: so his daughter could attend and graduate from the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system.

He says that decision has paid off.

His daughter, Madison, a Kadena High School senior, received a formal acceptance letter from the Naval Academy in November. What makes it even more special, he said, is that it’s rare to get such an early appointment.

“I attribute it to the strength of the faculty at Kadena High School,” Harter said. “There are numerous teachers there that go the extra mile for the students.”

Madison received a “presidential appointment.” Harter says the president gets 100 seats a year at each academy and children of career servicemembers compete for the seats. Madison is also in the running for one of the Air Force Academy presidential appointments but won’t find out if she is offered a seat there until the end of January.

Madison’s not sure yet if she’ll take the Naval Academy offer, even though her dad graduated from there in 1982 and wants his daughter to follow in his footsteps.

“I was a little surprised to get accepted,” Madison said, adding that her father “won’t disown” her if she doesn’t attend the academy, though “he teases me about it a lot.”

Her father said he “would love for her to go, but the reality is, she has to choose.”

Madison, who plays the flute, said her passion is music, and her first choices for schools are Rice University in Houston and Wheaton College in Chicago.

Madison went to the Air Force Academy for a week to visit through the “summer seminar” program and enjoyed it, but her passion for music is keeping her from making the commitment to the challenge of an academy, her mother, Lisa, said.

“It’s natural that [her father] wants one of his children to follow in his footsteps,” Lisa Harter said. “He reminds her that they not only pay for college, but they also pay you.”

Madison agrees with her dad that she received a quality education at Okinawa.

“I have visited high schools where there was graffiti on the walls and students don’t show any respect towards teachers, so I feel really lucky. … I’m glad I went to high school here,” she said.

The Harter’s were so pleased with Madison’s education here, they’ve decided to stay.

“I was offered to stay here in my job, and I took it so our son [Lindy] could graduate here also,” Ed Harter said. “The schools here are the best we’ve seen.”


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