The winning tradition for Hamilton High School’s celebrated Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program recently saw U.S. Navy student cadets capture more first-place trophies and they will soon battle on a national stage.
In a regional NJROTC competition hosted at the school, student members sweep top honors in three categories - academics, athletics, and drill championships.
Thanks to their wins, the squad of dedicated teens now advance to Florida for national competition.
The regional victory was the latest acclaim for the high school’s NJROTC, which was started in 2001 and has helped prepare thousands of Hamilton teens not only for possible military service but also how to excel in college and careers.
“Hamilton is the only school in the greater Cincinnati area to have ever compete at the National level in NJROTC competitions. And we are proud to say that we compete at multiple events at the national level,” said NJROTC Naval Science Instructor Todd McAlister.
Students often arrive in pre-dawn darkness in full cadet uniforms to work on drills, practicing in the high school gym long before other students begin to file in for another day of classes. The current program’s enrollment is more than 100 Hamilton teens.
McAlister said more than 300 cadets from seven Navy Junior ROTC units attended the Area 3 Championships late last month at the high school. The teens competed to win the honor of first place finishes in tests that challenged by their bodies and minds.
The goal was to win the regional Area 3 championship among other high school JROTC programs from throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, Minnesota and Nebraska and move on to the Navy Nationals, which Hamilton’s squad did.
Hamilton senior and Cadet Lieutenant Commander Alexis Smith said: “I am ecstatic for the opportunity that we have been given to travel to Pensacola, Florida for the National Drill Competition.”
“I could not be more excited to see all the hard work of the cadets around me paying off as we prepare to travel. I am so thankful for all the hard work every cadet has put into this and thankful for the instructors that have taught me along the way,” said Smith.
McAlister praised all the students, saying “we work hard.”
“We have challenges just like anyone else, but five (school) days a week arriving at 6 a.m. for practice is dedication and commitment.”
“And we appreciate the parents for allowing and driving these kids here all year round. It takes every single one of us to be this good,” he said.
“I am so proud of our accomplishments this year and we’re not done. Winning isn’t easy nor does it get old and I’m very excited for these young people.”
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