By Amy Newcomb (USAG Grafenwoehr)June 16, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Four Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from Vilseck High School, Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. John Lee, Cadet Master Sgt. Sara Carriker, Cadet Master Sgt. David Wood and Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Christy Manoogian, will travel to Washington D.C., June 25-30 for the annual George C. Marshall Leadership Symposium.
Cadet Sgt. Alex Velez and Cadet Sgt. John Wood were selected as alternates and will accompany the team in the case another is unable to attend.
The VHS JROTC competed against 1,600 other JROTC programs globally, winning one of 45 slots. Every slot is made up of four cadets, selected from different schools. The school will represent all of Department of Defense Dependent School JROTC programs at the symposium.
The selection process for the cadets is a rigorous testing of their abilities and knowledge of leadership in their JROTC programs.
"This was a very competitive event," said Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Robert Cheney, VHS JROTC Army instructor. "They worked very hard to accomplish the goal of making it to symposium."
Cheney will accompany the cadets this summer to the symposium. The four-member team earned the chance to attend the symposium because of their knowledge of leadership tenets from George C. Marshall, their understanding of JROTC leadership theory, and their ability to translate those tenets and theories to scenario-based questions.
"Some of the questions were scenarios where you are the first sergeant or the battalion command sergeant major (and asked), 'What would you do and how would you treat this situation''" said Manoogian.
According to Carriker, the test was multiple choice, however the questions were long and there was not much time to get them done.
"It's a lot of critical thinking," Lee said.
The cadets spent months taking practice tests to prepare for the two preliminary rounds of online exams. They studied on their own time after school and often on weekends with the help of VHS JROTC Senior Army Instructor Maj. Michael Farley.
"We have come in on days we were absolutely horribly sick ... we came in and we studied anyways," Lee said.
Farley arranged for the team to be entered into the competition last summer. He began gathering materials for the cadets to study through the first half of the 2008-2009 school year in preparation for the online tests the cadets had to take.
The two preliminary online tests consisted of the Challenge Test and the Zero Hour Threat Test. Each of the four cadets and two alternates had approximately one hour to complete each test. Each test was closed-book and proctored by Farley.
Once the tests were completed, they were automatically sent to the College Options Foundation Server for scoring. The VHS JROTC cadets scored in the 86th percentile collectively, earning them tickets to the symposium this summer.
At the symposium, they will be integrated with other cadets from schools worldwide.
"It gives them an opportunity to mingle with the other students from different schools," said Cheney.
According to Lee, the cadets will earn .5 hours in college credit and be able to work on leadership abilities in a group setting at the symposium.
"We will meet a whole bunch of new people and travel to look at different sites and memorials," Carriker said.
The cadet command out of Fort Monroe, Va., sponsors all cadets going to the George C. Marshall Leadership Symposium, paying for the travel arrangements and expenses of the attendees.