ALS Class 21-F graduation: A return to heritage

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Staff Sgt. Julio Alonso Airman Leadership School, Class 21-F, graduated 29 students during the first post-COVID-19 dinner and graduation ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, July 22, 2021.

Due to COVID-19 guidance initiated by wing leadership, nine ALS classes had to forgo the traditional dinner and graduation ceremony normally held at the culmination of each ALS class. All classes were taught virtually and graduation ceremonies were scaled down to either virtual or less formal ceremonies held in the base theater.

The last formal dinner and graduation was held Feb. 6, 2020, for ALS Class 20-C.

Over the course of the past year, ALS cadre and students overcame classroom teaching obstacles to abide by COVID-19 restrictions in order to finally get back to pre-pandemic graduation ceremonies.

“During the previous nine classes, we reduced the number of students in each class and added a third flight,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Baughan, 436th Force Support Squadron Professional Military Education instructor. “We also enforced the six-foot rule for all students and arranged their desks so we could maintain [distance], along with temperature checks.”

Students of Class 21-F attended in person and adhered to COVID-19 protocols.

“In the last year, we had to be innovative in finding different ways to conduct business due to COVID-19,” said Chief Master Sgt. Darwin Mallari, 436th FSS superintendent. “Our team of cadre spent countless hours generating ideas to use the current technology to teach ALS.”

Mallari added that COVID restrictions hindered previous classes, cheating students out of the experience of classroom learning.

“However, for every negative, you must find the positive,” Mallari said. “We are now proficient with conducting classes and meetings with other professionals from around the globe at anytime and anywhere. It feels great…to see smiling faces in person, and not virtually, to celebrate the accomplishments of our newest Air Force supervisors.”

For Staff Sgt. Dylan Bulick, 436th Security Force Squadron response force leader, the class’s John Levitow Award winner, having squadron leadership and family in attendance made the evening extra special.

“It was awesome...being able to have a formal graduation and have all of our leadership here supporting us,” said Bulick. “My wife Jessica and son Aiden are the foundation of my family, without them none of this would have been possible.”