Meet Brady Kriegel, the Riverside Prep graduate who says the military school helped him reach his potential

Ben Anderson, The Times
The following article was part of a graduation special section, posted online on May 20, 2024, and published in the May 29, 2024 edition of The Times in Gainesville.

Brady Kriegel’s parents sent him to Riverside Preparatory Academy when he was just 11 years old, not because he was a troubled kid but for the self-development opportunities provided by a military school. 
Kriegel’s parents expected him to attend only part time, but he enjoyed it so much he decided to become a boarding student. 
“It’s actually a funny story how I started out here,” Kriegel said. “I was originally just going to be a day cadet. I was going to go home every single day, and I came home after our 30-day initiation … and I had to sit down with my parents and tell them that I wanted to live here.” 
“They were in like utter shock,” he said, laughing. 
When asked what made him want to stay, he said, “I would say like the brotherhood of everything. That was one of my biggest things was like, I just couldn’t leave my friends. You know, there were so many people here that I needed them to stay, and they needed me to stay. And we went through something that not every seventh grader goes through, something very difficult and challenging for 30 days, and that builds a lot of bonds and friendships. And I was like, I have to stay here and finish out the year with these guys and hopefully finish out in my entire time at Riverside with them.” 
Now, six years later, he feels his time at Riverside has set him apart from students with a traditional high school experience and allowed him to fulfil his potential. 
“I was never the quiet kid, but I wasn't fully embracing what was inside of me,” he said. “I think them sending me here, the idea of it was just kind of (to) open me up a little bit and get me to realize my full potential.” 
“I've traveled to three different continents and experienced a world where kids at other public high schools, or other high schools in general, are just going to class every single day,” he said. 
As he sees it, he entered Riverside as a scared kid and has now blossomed into a confident man equipped with strong sense of discipline and accountability. 
“Here, it's almost impossible to fail a class just because of how much we’re on people,” he said. 
Kriegel was born and raised in Braselton. Growing up, he spent most weekends helping his mother at the family’s antique store, Countryside Antiques. 
Just two years after he began attending Riverside, at the age of 13, his leadership skills were already apparent, and he has been guiding cadets ever since. But early only, it wasn’t easy telling kids older than him what to do. 
“That was definitely something challenging, is having to develop as a leader, to be able to tell a 17, 18-year-old kid what to do at 13 years old,” he said. “Speaking from where I am now, there's no way I'd want a 13-year-old little kid to come up and knock on my door at six o'clock in the morning and tell me what to do every day.“ 
He is the only six-year cadet at Riverside, and as a company commander, he is responsible for a group of 40 of his peers. He’s also senior class president and captain of the football and baseball teams. 
After graduating, Kriegel plans on joining the Army National Guard and enrolling at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, where he will double major in political science and intelligence and security studies. After that, his goal is to get a “a government job with a three-letter agency,” be it the FBI, CIA, DEA or NSA. 
When asked what interests him about those federal jobs, he said, “I don't know why. I just feel it somewhere in me that that's what I need to do in life.” 
If that doesn’t work out, he said, he plans to pursue a career as a politician. 
“Every day, people all around the U.S. wake up and gripe and complain about something that's going on in the world or in the state they live in, and it'd be nice if I could be that person to help with that change, or even be the change,” he said. “That's really the biggest reason, is just to be the change I want to see.” 
In his free time, he enjoys working out, playing football, going to the movie theater and attending sports games. 
    • Cadet Brady Kriegel. (Photo by Scott Rogers, The Times)