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JROTC units face off in drill competition

Cadets from the Arlington High School Air Force and Marysville-Pilchuck High School Navy Junior ROTC units follow orders among a host of other high school JROTC units during the Dec. 15 drill competition at AHS. - Kirk Boxleitner
Cadets from the Arlington High School Air Force and Marysville-Pilchuck High School Navy Junior ROTC units follow orders among a host of other high school JROTC units during the Dec. 15 drill competition at AHS.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Cadets from the Arlington High School Air Force and Marysville-Pilchuck High School Navy Junior ROTC units were singled out for distinction in several categories, as they competed among a host of other high school JROTC units in armed and unarmed drills at Arlington High School on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School ranked sixth for both Color Guard Teams 1 and 2, but scored first among unarmed drill teams. While M-PHS again scored first among unarmed drill team commanders, AHS scored fourth in the same category, and while Arlington ranked sixth among armed drill teams, Marysville ranked sixth among armed drill team commanders.

Marysville took second in both the armed duo team and unarmed drill down categories, while Arlington took fifth in the unarmed drill down, but first in the armed drill down. M-P’s physical strength team placed third, while its cadets ranked fourth for physical fitness scores among men, and both fourth and fifth for physical fitness scores among women.

M-PHS NJROTC Cadet Ens. Terence Lacson has followed in the footsteps of not only his older sister, who was also in his unit’s unarmed drill team, but their father, a 21-year Navy veteran. Looking back on four years of JROTC, he acknowledged how challenging it is for himself and his fellow cadets to drag themselves out of bed at 3 a.m. for an all-day drill competition, but he deemed the life lessons they’ve gained through such experiences to be well worth the headaches.

“Not everyone is a morning person, but you work through it,” Lacson said. “You have to focus, pay attention and persevere, and make sure your cadets do the same. No matter how frustrating things can get, it all pays off with the help of your team. They’ve gotten me back on track to see my goals.”

Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Kathy Wilde joined the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Naval Junior ROTC program this school year after 22 years in the fleet, but since she enlisted straight out of high school, when she was part of the JROTC unit there, this feels like coming full circle for her.

“These kids commit to this schedule, at the same time that they’re juggling AP and Honors classes,” said Wilde, who cited the cadets’ more than 1,200 hours of community service this school year, including a holiday food drive that yielded 2,048 pounds of donated food. “In their drills, they focus on regulations and keep it basic. They’re not here to be fancy. They’re here to do it right, and that mentality extends to other areas of service and citizenship.”

Retired Air Force Maj. Mike Blue was gratified that the event’s concessions made so much money, since those funds will help his cadets in the Arlington High School Air Force Junior ROTC program afford to travel to drill competitions at other schools.

“This time hosting the event went way better than last time,” Blue said. “Maybe next time, we should have the band accompany us. They offered to take part this time around, but it was too late to make it work.”

Blue thanked the community for its support and commended his cadets for their teamwork and precision, but suggested that they might need to “jazz up their exhibition a bit, since we’ve been doing the same stuff for a few years now.”

AHS AFJROTC Cadet Airman 1st Class Donald Janda and Cadet 1st Lt. Ariel Taylor both joined as freshman, although that still adds up to two very different years of experience in the unit, since Janda is a sophomore now while Taylor is a senior. Both appreciate their fellow cadets, even if Taylor’s position of leadership poses some challenges that Janda doesn’t have to cope with.

“Camaraderie is probably the most common answer that people will give for why they love it, but it’s true,” Taylor said. “It can be difficult to deal with cadets who don’t want to listen to orders, but you’ve got to make them understand that they’ve got to put the time in to do things right. There’s no ‘I can’t.’”

“I definitely like the teamwork,” said Janda, who scored Arlington its first place in the armed drill down. “With something like that, you just make sure you know what you need to do and try not to mess up. You can’t worry about the judges.”

 

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