Highly-decorated veteran at nation's 1st public military school in Richmond 'sees opportunities' for cadets

Mesatovar: 'He has something amazing that you don’t see in just anybody... and he sees opportunities that are difficult for others to see'
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Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-21 17:14:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Cadets at Franklin Military Academy are joining the ranks of this season’s graduates ready to make their marks on the world. Each has a backstory of perseverance, dedication and, according to Col. Carlton Day, who runs the Richmond Public Schools JROTC program, lots of hard work and service to the community.

Col. Carlton Day
Col. Carlton Day

"Since I was at Franklin, we did over 140 community service events," Col. Day, a JROTC senior Army instructor, said. "From Color Guard, to supporting the veterans administration. Wreaths Across America, Coats For kids, food drives. Just so many and I think kids get a sense of belonging. A sense of self worth and a sense of giving back."

Col. Day's role at the academy, which is the nation's first public military school, involves lots of guidance and a little bit of tough love.

"I think all kids want some type of discipline regardless," Col. Day said. "I think they like direction. They want to learn. They want to grow, and they want to develop. And this JROTC program teaches that. Along with making better citizens, they are learning, growing and developing — and you can see that over the course of freshman year, sophomore, junior and senior year."

But students and FMA administrators credit Col. Day and his team with guiding these students on a journey to success. For the past 7 and a half years, the highly-decorated military veteran has poured into the more than 500 JROTC students across RPS.

Students and supporters said Col. Day's passion is evident as he made the nearly two-hour trek to Richmond daily to shape these students into responsible cadets.

Itziana Mesatovar and Col. Carlton Day
Itziana Mesatovar and Col. Carlton Day

Itziana Mesatovar, a recent Franklin Military Academy graduate, said Col. Day is special.

"He has something amazing that you don’t see in just anybody," Mesatovar said. "He has such dedication, and he sees opportunities that are difficult for others to see."

Col. Day hasn’t just guided the students at Franklin Military Academy, he has also led the JROTC program at four other RPS schools.

"As we grow and develop, with this short stint in JROTC, hopefully they will be positive citizens in their own communities, Col. Day said.

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And he has helped students earn more than $24 million in scholarships over seven years.

In fact, Col. Day recently reviewed college scholarship options with Mesatovar, focusing on her next academic move that will save her family thousands.

"That excites me. I didn’t know that was possible," Mesatovar explained. "I didn’t think I would go to college not having to pay a dime. They’ve helped me tremendously with every single step of the way."

Her payback to Col. Day, like many other cadets before her, is succeeding in the next phase of her academic journey. She is thankful and grateful for life lessons and life skills she gained from a man who pushed his students to walk in their purpose and maximize their true potential.

"Students reaching back out to you saying, 'Thank you.' To me, that’s the most gratifying," Col. Day said. "You can’t put a price tag to that."

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