Tuesday, the Stephens County Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel David A. Priatko as the new JROTC Senior Army Instructor.
Priatko comes to Stephens County High School after retiring from the U.S. Army with over 24 years of service.
Most recently, he has served as Executive Officer for the Directorate of Training Doctrine at Fort Benning.
A 1989 West Point graduate, Priatko served with the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm and the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq on three separate occasions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Throughout his military career, he has served as an Operations Officer, Executive Officer, Deputy Brigade Commander, and Batallion Commander.
Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said that the school system is happy to welcome Lt. Col. Priatko to Stephens County.
“Our JROTC program has a strong legacy of working with students and has been an outstanding program for us,” said Whiten. “He is going to be an asset and we are excited to have him come in and join our group.”
Priatko replaces Lt. Col. Phil Baker, who retired in December.
Baker served as Senior Army Instructor for the JROTC program since its inception at Stephens County High School in 2009.
Whiten said the program will continue its efforts both in the school and in the community under Lt. Col. Priatko.
“You are going to see those cadets out all over town,” said Whiten. “It is just very important that we keep that part of it up and I think Lt. Col. Priatko is going to be just the one to step in. We have carried on these past couple of months. Sgt. (Charles) Gibbs has done an outstanding job of making sure our students were out doing the things folks in our community applauded them for doing.”
School system officials said that Sgt. Gibbs continues to serve as the program’s Army Instructor.
Lieutenant Colonel Priatko will begin his duties as Senior Army Instructor for the Stephens County High School JROTC Currahee Batallion on April 8.