Washington, D.C. (June 27, 2016) -- After three days of competitions against Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Cadets from across the world, two Army JROTC teams were named the victors in their respective categories during the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB), which was held on the campus of The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., June 25-27.

JLAB brings together hundreds of JROTC students from each service to participate in challenging leadership activities and in the largest academic bowl in the country.

The Army JROTC team from Gulf Coast High School, Naples, Fla. was named the winner of the Leadership portion of JLAB, and the team from Lyman High School, Longwood, Fla., took the top spot for the Army in Academics.

Cadet Jordan Franks, Lyman High School academic team captain, said winning for the competition was a little unexpected.

"This was our second year in a row of making it to the nationals, so we were ecstatic just about that," he said. "It was just euphoric going through each and every round, and realizing after every single one that we were undefeated - it was almost dreamlike - it was surreal."

Franks said that while he is the team captain, he doesn't take credit for the team's success -- it's a product of teamwork.

"We all work together as equals," said Franks. "We just got together and figured out our independent strengths we came together and worked things out. Wonderful team building and great cooperation amongst the team members was key to success."

Terry Wilfong, president of the College Options Foundation, which co-sponsors the event with Army JROTC, said JLAB is about much more than bragging rights for the winners.

"The most important highlight of the overall JLAB event is that it is a year-long process. All Army JROTC programs worldwide start selecting and preparing teams in September of the student's junior year," he said. "Teams are studying SAT and ACT prep and leadership curriculum months before the first JLAB competition online testing in November."

Wilfong said 50 percent of those students are brought forward into testing at Level II in February of the following year, leading to three more months of studying standardized test information and leadership theory. The top three percent of those winning teams are selected to attend the finals in Washington, D.C.

"So, approximately 52,000 Cadets have increased their common core high school curriculum knowledge, raised their SAT or ACT test scores, and mastered the analytics of leadership theory, bringing all of Army JROTC forward at the same time," he said. "This is not a one-week event. This is a year-long, systematic approach at improving standardized test scores and leadership for all of JROTC."

Greta Medford, chief of education and curriculum for JROTC, and JROTC coordinator for JLAB, agreed there are many benefits for the Cadets who participate in JLAB activities.

"JLAB is Army JROTC's way of showcasing the academic and leadership portions of our curriculum -- so it gives you the whole picture of what we do in JROTC," she said. "We have what we call program outcomes - JLAB supports what they've learned. For the academic portion it supports learning in the classroom, as well as their SAT/ACT preparation. The for the leadership teams it supports their drill and ceremony, decision making skills."

Medford said the experience takes also broadens the Cadets knowledge base in several ways.
"I think one of the biggest things about coming here for them is meeting other students from across the world," she said. "And being here in DC, they get to actually see the things they've learned about -- especially for the leadership team members. They study all of the leaders, so they get the chance to see where policies are actually made, where some of the great leaders are buried and things like that."

Medford added she hopes many of the Cadets can benefit from their JLAB experience even after they graduate high school.

"It broadens their views of their possibilities and what they can achieve," she said. "They are meeting kids that are in college, meeting college representatives, they're preparing by taking SAT/ACT type questions - it sets them up for success if they decide to go onto college."

Members of the Lyman High School JROTC Academic Team were: Jordan Franks, Joshua Toth, Anthony Del Palazzo and Angelica Sharkey. The members of the Gulf Coast High School Leadership Team were: Cole Honnila, Connor McMonigle, Michael Mizell and Andrew Mizell.