Prep cadets shine at inspection
Left, left, left, right, left …
South Tahoe High School’s Navy Junior ROTC cadets have outdone themselves.
With not a hair out of place and performing drills with practiced precision, the 95 cadets passed their annual inspection Friday with flying colors.
“The program was given the highest grade of ‘outstanding,'” said instructor Lt. Cmdr. Matt Williams. “I’m very proud of the cadets for all they’ve done.”
The inspection was executed by Cmdr. Nan Dupuy, of San Diego, who is manager of NJROTC’s Area 11 – which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California.
“The NJROTC is an extensive training program that fosters citizenship, personal honor, teamwork, leadership and life skills,” Dupuy said Friday to the crowd. “Over 59,000 cadets are inspected annually nationwide to review the progress of each program. Let me just say that your school is doing wonderfully – you’ve surpassed yourselves from last year.”
Roughly one-third of the group received the highest rating during the personnel inspection, said Williams, with the remaining either receiving superior or excellent ratings.
On the high school’s football field, personnel inspections were followed by a Platoon Basic Drill and Drill Team Performance. Proud parents and the STHS Band filled the stands.
Dupuy later inspected program operations, observed instructors Williams and Senior Chief Petty Officer Darwin Sharpe, then briefed each cadet individually.
“I was pretty nervous,” said freshman cadet Justin Williams. “We practiced our drills for two months. During practice some of us carried rocks in our right hands to remind us which way to turn.”
The NJROTC program was introduced at the high school last year, drawing 78 participants. This year it grew to 95, and Williams has just learned that 138 have signed up for next year.
“This is good training for me – I want to stay in for all four years,” said freshman cadet Nicole Smith. “Eventually I want to fly planes in the Air Force.”
“I enjoy (NJROTC) and I like the uniforms, but I don’t want to go into the military,” said Junior cadet Christy Pierce. “I want to go into vet medicine at UC Davis.”
The NJROTC has attracted a diverse group, said Lake Tahoe Unified School Board President David Kurtzman.
“This has proved to be very enriching for these students,” said Kurtzman, who was present for the inspection. “It has exposed them to a lot outside the classroom.”
Seeing a need, Williams said the STHS program has placed more of an emphasis on career and life skills than many of the other NJROTC programs around the country.
“All of this stuff will help kids later on in life,” said Williams. “I’m most proud of that.”
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