Richmond Hill High School’s JROTC leadership team made school history when it finished 10th in the U.S. Army JROTC Leadership Bowl Championship.
The annual event, which consists of Leadership and Academic divisions, is a national week-long competition held annually on the campus of Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
The Richmond Hill team was made up of rising seniors Sabra King, Cassandra Alvarez and Megan Evans along with rising junior Adrianna Torres.
“It was a great week,” SFC (Ret.) Wendell Chase said. “This is the first time Richmond Hill has advanced to the national finals.
“For being on a national level stage for the first time they handled themselves well.”
Chase, along with SFC (Ret.) Charles Blanks, are the instructors for the program. Blanks has been at Richmond Hill since 2008 and Chase came on board in 2014.
Nearly 1,600 JROTC teams were in the mix when competition began last November with 40 advancing to the national finals. The Coastal Empire was also represented by Benedictine Military School and Liberty County High School with Benedictine finishing fifth.
The purpose of JROTC, Chase said, is to boost citizenship and character development. The program curriculum includes lessons in leadership, health and wellness, physical fitness, first-aid, geography, American history and government, communications and emotional intelligence.
Richmond Hill has about 230 students in its JROTC program, according to Chase. About 70 percent of those are boys.
“This has definitely raised the bar,” Chase said. “This has most definitely put us in a different atmosphere. We want to make it to D.C. every year now.”
The all-girls team of King, Alvarez, Evans and Torres was selected based on their grade point averages, volunteerism, and their desire and willingness to compete.
Chase believes their success will get more students interested in competing and will give the program an overall boost.
“I don’t expect our numbers (230) to increase,” Chase said. “But I think it will generate more interest in being a part of the leadership and academic programs. “The kids received letters commending them for their accomplishment,” Chase said. “We plan on having a ceremony once school starts up again. This will show everyone Richmond Hill can compete with other schools on a national level.”
Chase said one of the reasons the Richmond Hill program is so successful and has a high level of participation is the support it receives from the community which has a military influence.
“The community has always been great since I’ve been here,” Chase said. “A lot of parents, though, are hesitant to let their kids participate because they’re concerned we’ll try to recruit the kids for the Army.
“That’s not the case at all. It’s all about motivating young people to be better citizens. About 10 percent of our kids do go into the military but the majority of them go on to college.”