JROTC: Going to state fifth year in a row

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Lynette Norris
ECB Publishing, Inc.

After the Regional Drill Meeting competition in Chipley, where the Jefferson County Middle High School JROTC participated in seven of the 14 events, the Tiger Battalion placed high enough in four events to qualify for competition at the state level.
The JROTC took first place in the Male Exhibition Squad; second place in the Female Exhibition Squad; fourth place in the Male Armed Squad; and third place in the Dual Exhibition, with Battalion Commander Christian Steen and Executive Officer Mark Vinson.
The JROTC team members will compete in these four events at the State Drill Meet in Lakeland, March 31 through April 2.
1st Sgt. Terry Walker expressed pride in the team’s accomplishments, stating that even the other schools (for example Rickards of Tallahassee and Tate Sr. High of Pensacola) were impressed by Jefferson’s performance.
The competition comes at a time when most of the JROTC students are also participating in multiple springtime sports (track, baseball, basketball, etc.) and had to be pulled out of one practice for another.
It usually takes 3-4 months of consistent practice, and Jefferson has typically been behind other schools in the amount of practice the cadets are able to get, yet they shine each year at the Regionals and have gone on to the State Drill Meets for the last five years in row.
At the State level, the competition is intense.  There are over 100 participating schools and Jefferson will probably be competing against 40 or more of them in each of its four events.  There is no separation of schools (into 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, etc); all schools compete at the same level, regardless of size.  The Tiger Battalion will be up against South Florida Schools and other large urban schools that have entire class periods every day devoted to nothing except drilling.
“This is the cream of the crop (at the state level),” said Walker.  “To be able to challenge that speaks to the fortitude, character and dedication our kids have.”
The competition is so great there that to be able to come out in the top 15 “would be a real honor.”
The cadets have also been able to stay focused and optimistic despite the changes in the air, the uncertainty of the future and the fact that this is the last year they will perform as the JCMHS JROTC.  Next year, under the charter school company, the school’s name will be different.  They hope to continue with the JROTC Program – the school district and community have been very vocal in their support of the program with each charter company Jefferson has dealt with, but nothing is etched in stone as of yet.
Walker remains “very optimistic in spite of everything” and takes great pride in in the cadets’ level of commitment, and in the program, which has been written about in the Washington Post.
Congratulations to the JROTC for their achievement at the Regional Drill Meet, and good luck at the upcoming State Drill Meet in Lakeland.