SALADO — Robert Cortes, a 2014 Salado High School graduate, is one of 50 students selected nationwide to attend the Four Star Leadership Program led by retired Gen. Tommy Franks, former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The program focuses on leadership training, policy debate, speech competition and scholarships, and offers an opportunity to engage with national and global leaders. It is scheduled for July 12-19 in Oklahoma City.

“I’m already excited about everything,” Cortes said of his admission to Georgetown and his plans for the future. “This opportunity will give me a chance to better myself before I go to college. The focus will be on writing, public speaking and several areas that I want to improve in. It’s what I’m looking forward to this summer.”

The son of Dr. Robert Cortes and Lisa Bailey, Robert Cortes said when he visited Washington, D.C., he fell in love with the area.

“I was like a kid at Disney World,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be there and attend Georgetown. There are a lot of intelligent people coming together to create great things.”

His interest in politics blossomed when he read the political theories of John Locke, he said. “Everything just clicked,” he said. “I love politics and political discussion.”

While politics has become almost a dirty word in some circles because of the polarization and fractured government in America today, Cortes said he hopes to help change that.

Burt Smith, who is transitioning from Salado High School principal to the district’s curriculum and instruction director, said Robert Cortes is a “great young man and a wonderful student.”

“Robert just graduated, and is going to Georgetown University, which is such a competitive place to get into,” Smith said. “He attended the Texas Bioscience Institute and already has an associate’s degree, which is just phenomenal.”

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