UNION — The Army JROTC Leadership Team of the Union County High School Yellow Jacket Battalion has been recognized by the head of the U.S. Department of Defense for its role in a national leadership and academic event earlier this year.
In a statement released this week, the Army JROTC U.S. Army Cadet Command announced that the team “was recently recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, for their participation in the 2011-2012 JROTC Leadership Symposium and Academic Bowl Championship which took place in Washington, D.C., June 2012.”
The statement describes the JROTC Leadership Symposium and Academic Bowl (JLAB) as “a nationally recognized academic and leadership competition created exclusively for JROTC students. Cadets who participate learn the values of citizenship and academic competition while increasing their SAT/ACT scores; also increasing interest in college admissions, improving leadership skills and boosting team and unit esprit de corps. The competition creates tremendous opportunities for JROTC cadets by providing the opportunity to demonstrate the leadership and academic strengths of the JROTC program.”
Col. John O’Dell, senior army instructor for the Yellow Jacket Battalion, said the team — Michael Leigh, team captain, Avery Hyatt, Alana Wright, Meagan Hames, Lucas Kelley, and Devin Ivey — won the right to compete at JLAB after passing the Level I and Level II preliminary competitions. As national finalists, the team was 22nd in the top 40 of the 1,700 Army JROTC units in the nation.
O’Dell said each team is divided into four primaries who go to the Level III phase of the competition at JLAB and two alternates who go in the event any of the primaries cannot attend. He said the four primaries — all of whom went to Washington and competed in JLAB — from UCHS were Leigh, Wright, Hyatt and Hames.
To prepare for their tests, the team — which began preparing for the competition in 2011 — practiced every day by answering questions from the JROTC Curriculum in the Classroom Performance System (CPS). Their scores were sent in to The College Options Foundation and earned the right to go back to DC for the fifth consecutive time. Only one other school has matched this record.
After winning the right to go to JLAB, the team was given several assignments and tasks to complete that would be graded and factored into their final standing. This included reading a book on Marshall’s life and one on the life of Douglas MacArthur along with three units out of the JROTC curriculum.
In Washington, the team was placed into their group with several different schools from all over the country including Texas, Virginia, and South Carolina. The team was given the opportunity to tour Washington while researching their assigned monument, the World War II Memorial. They then had to complete several tasks including making a video, writing an essay, organizing a picture show, making a PowerPoint presentation, and interviewing other cadets, tourists, and World War II veterans to gather quotes.
O’Dell thanked Panetta for his recognition of the team, adding that the Yellow Jacket Battalion is already preparing for the 2012-2013 competition.
“We are honored to have the Secretary of Defense recognize our achievement along with the other fine JROTC units who attended JLAB 2012,” O’Dell said. “Union County JROTC is now in the process of forming teams and training for the 2013 competition. We have two goals: to extend our unprecedented streak of five straight trips by the leadership team to the national symposium, and to return to our 2010 form when we were one of only six teams in the nation to take both leadership and academic teams to D.C.”