The best 40 Army JROTC programs and the best 48 all-service JROTC programs from the 3,500 high schools competing in the competitions travel to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their leadership and academic skills on a national level.
More than a year of studying and competing culminates in the two JLAB events – the Army JROTC Leadership Bowl on June 19-22 and the All-Service JROTC Academic Bowl on June 24-27 – for over 200 high school JROTC students.
Stephanie Shen, a rising senior at Francis Lewis High School, stated, “We’ve studied all night some days, and we’ve definitely put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this, well, not blood, but definitely a lot of hard work.”
Lt. Col. Casey Geist, director of Army JROTC, said, “In Junior ROTC, we teach leadership in the classroom, but what they really get out of it is the co-curricular events…this [competition] is another niche for the kids that really enjoy the leadership portion and academics, We can tell everybody how to be a leader while in the classroom, but this is the chance to actually get out, practice what they’re doing, get feedback, and learn to develop those social-emotional learning skills with other students – how to lead teams and be effective.”
Marchantia Johnson, a retired Master Sgt., is a teacher at San Antonio’s Theodore Roosevelt High School. She has been preparing her Cadets for this event all year. It isn’t something that can be learned in a day or two.
She explained, “It’s a lot of bookwork, a lot of studying, and a lot of teaching them how to work as a team.”
Marchantia Johnson continued, “all year they’re learning JROTC knowledge, and then they’re challenged with that information when they come here, the kids have to work together. It showcases their leadership, it showcases their teamwork and their ability to be able to communicate with each other to get a task completed.”
For the chance to compete, a few teams have even traveled across an ocean.
Yannic Miranda, a rising senior from Ansbach Middle High School in Ansbach, Germany, said, “We definitely don’t get a lot of trips like this, so it’s kind of exciting.”
Miranda and his junior teammate Alexander Pohlman both feel prepared for the competition, in part to their character growth in JROTC through the year.
Pohlman added, “JROTC is really about putting yourself outside the box and really growing yourself, you show yourself off as a good leader and become confident in informing other people and helping them out.”
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