NJROTC to participate in their first in-person competition since pandemic’s start


Olivia Knowling

Freshmen Aaron Sturgill (left) and Benjamin Thacker (right) fold the American flag after school last week.

Derek Jacoby, Staff Writer

Bearden’s Navy Junior ROTC will have an in-person competition on Feb. 15, their first since March of last year.

NJROTC has held other competitions, but they have all been virtual due to Covid-19. In a typical year, the Bearden teachers overseeing NJROTC will take students on multiple field trips across the country.

“What is difficult about it is that it is hard to tell a young cadet who has been here a year now, has never got to go to a competition,” Chief Randy Dickson said. “They hear people talk about it, but you’re not getting to feel it, you’re not getting to see it, so it is difficult to maintain that level of excitement and enthusiasm throughout the program.”

This makes the anticipation of an in-person competition that much more important.

“I am extremely excited for the first in-person ROTC event,” senior Commanding Officer Zoe Jouline said. “It feels like a culmination of a lot of hard work.

“Covid has made a lot of people really unmotivated and has definitely seemed to re-energize every cadet.”

The competition consists of multiple different events that are scored individually. The scores are then culminated to rank the schools.

 “I expect that the teams’ work this year to prepare for this competition will pay off,” junior drill commander Garrett Faircloth. “I hope to get within the top three schools at the competition.”

Chief Dickson and Jouline similarly share high expectations and both said they expect a first place finish.

Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted NJROTC due to it being heavily dependent on participation, but the cadets and teachers alike have shown incredible leadership and resilience in staying steadfast in their program.