Willard, Mo. – Willard High School NJROTC recently received the “Distinguished Unit With Honors” award from NJROTC headquarters in Pensacola, Fl. This is the ninth time Willard has been designated as a “Distinguished Unit” since the unit was commissioned in 2001. NJROTC Area NINE, of which Willard is a member, includes over 60 schools from seven states. Of those only 19 were designated as “Distinguished Units” this year and of those only 12 also got the designation “With Honors.”
“I’m extremely proud of our cadets,” said Capt. Steve Burnett, the Senior Naval Science Instructor at Willard. “This award takes into account everything our cadets do from community service to the drill and rifle team competition.”
Cadet Battalion Commander Julian Erickson was also very happy with the results. “We’ve been working hard all year,” he said. “It’s great to see the cadets get recognition for all the hard work.”
Willard NJROTC also competed in the 2017 Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) National Academic, Athletic and Drill Champion on board Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola April 7-8. This was the fourth time in the history of the unit at Willard the cadets have won a spot to compete. This also made it two years in a row for Willard NJROTC. Last year the cadets placed 20th overall and this year they placed 16th.
MSgt Gary McClelland, the drill coach and a Naval Science Instructor at Willard said the cadets spent hundreds of hours practicing to compete. “Getting to go to Navy Nationals is almost like making it to the Super bowl for us,” he said.
Willard Teams placed in the following events: overall drill: 12th place, overall athletics: 14th place and academics 12th place. Also of note Willard cadet Master Chief Jasmine Felin took first place in the nation unarmed knockout drill.
A total of 24 NJROTC units, representing 15 states from coast-to-coast, were challenged on their athleticism, tested in academics and evaluated on the drill deck during the competition held at the Naval Air Technical Training Center's (NATTC) Chevalier Hall.
NJROTC is a citizenship development program that instills in high school students and in U.S. secondary educational institutions the value of citizenship and service to the United States. Approximately 24 of 583 NJROTC units worldwide qualify for the national competition annually.
"Twenty four of the finest NJROTC units from across the United States were part of this amazing two-day event designed to promote the positive aspects and benefits of the NJROTC program through academic, athletic and drill competition," said Dr. J.D. Smith, director and NJROTC Program Manager. "This year's competition was fantastic and provided lessons learned that will stay with the cadets long after their NJROTC days are behind them."
The NJROTC, or Citizenship Development program is currently under the direction of Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans and his Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) staff, headquartered on board Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill.
In addition to regular classroom instruction, NJROTC cadets participate in a number of extra-curricular activities throughout the school year and during the summer months that are designed to stimulate learning by hands-on experiences and to reinforce the program's curriculum. Cadet extra-curricular activities include community service projects, drill competitions, academic competitions, visits to naval installations and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training.