Leading with Experience
Cadet Jacob Brooks, right, a freshman in the Army ROTC program at Virginia Tech., briefs his Army JROTC leadership team on their fact-finding mission June 25 during a tour of the historical monuments in Washington D.C.

FAIRFAX, Va. " More than 150 of the nation’s top 240 Army JROTC cadets toured the historical monuments in Washington D.C. during their time at the annual JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl, held June 24-28 at George Mason University.

The JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl, or JLAB, is hosted annually by College Options Foundation, an organization dedicated to enriching the academic development of high school students and assisting them in their preparation for higher education.

This year, instead of having each Army JROTC leadership team directly escorted by an Army JROTC instructor, eight senior ROTC cadets were selected to facilitate the eight Army JROTC leadership teams. Each team consists of 20 Army JROTC cadet leaders, one Army senior ROTC cadet facilitator, and two cadre members, who take on the role of assistant facilitators.

“This is a different twist on what we’ve done during JLAB in previous years,” said retired Lt. Col. Dwayne Gatson, the Senior Army Instructor at AC Flora High School in Columbia, SC. “Having ROTC cadets as facilitators, since they are younger, they are less distant from our junior cadets and can connect with them on a different level. All our facilitators are all stellar performers in their own programs. It’s a great use of their summer, and a great resume builder for them.”

Throughout the tour, lead facilitators consistently conduct a head count to ensure that not one cadet is left behind. In addition, they escort the junior Army cadets to each monument and share a few historical insights. They are also in charge of leading their own team of cadets, making sure each cadet has a battle buddy, and that they stay on task in gathering information for their special team project.

“I attended JLAB as a junior cadet two years ago, and the methods that are in use today help make things much more streamlined,” said Jacob Brooks, 18, a JLAB team facilitator and freshman Army ROTC cadet at Virginia Tech. “I attribute a lot of my success in college and ROTC today to my training in JROTC. It’s a great program that all high school students should get involved in to help develop their leadership potential.”

Each of the eight Army JROTC leadership teams are assigned specific tasks related to their team project. Many of the teams at JLAB, in addition to competing in the academic bowl, are participating in a high-profile educational project that will help enhance SAT / ACT skill training and test scores. In fact, the materials pieced together in these projects will be used to create a series of educational video games designed by Disney, and educational comic books designed by Marvel Comics, according to Terry Wilfong, founder of College Options Foundation.

“This whole experience is outstanding,” said David Ryu, 16, Cadet 1st Sgt. from Howard High School in Howard County, Md., who plans to major in mechanical engineering in college. “I’ve never had an opportunity to learn about my true leadership capabilities and to really compete with a team that I can grow closer with. It’s truly inspirational to meet other students like me who share the same interests and passion to be strong leaders.”

Page last updated Tue June 28th, 2011 at 13:50