WASHINGTON, D.C., (June 26, 2021) -- Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Cadets from across the country competed in battles of knowledge and skill against other cadets on the campus of the Catholic University of America July 19-26 during the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl. Cadets in the competition are in the top three percent of all JROTC cadets across the nation.
While there were some differences to this year’s competition because of changes due to COVID precautions, teams were still able to converge on DC to compete against one another to see who had what it took to see how they stacked up against their peers.
Mike Jones, co-curricular manager for Army JROTC, said JROTC leadership decided to make several changes to the competition to provide added protection for Cadets who made the trip to DC to compete.
“This year because of the pandemic we had to extend it out, bringing the leadership competitors in first. Once the leadership portion was complete, then we brought the academic teams in. We also ensured all of the teams and event staff were informed on the current CDC guidance and had those who have not yet been vaccinated wear masks to provide an added layer of safety,” Jones said.
He added, the new extended format may be the model for future JLABs because of its success.
“I think for the kids it was a lot less stress. We got to focus more on the cadets because leadership and academics weren’t combined – this allowed for more attention to each group compared to in the past when they were combined and competed during the same period.,” Jones said.
According to Jones, JLAB is one of JROTC’s biggest events that reinforce the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in today’s classroom curricula.
“With the way technology is moving and advancement of STEM, this is the premiere JROTC STEM event we currently host. In the leadership portion, they have to consider all of the science, technology, engineering and math to be successful at the challenges. Then when it comes to the academic bowl, all the questions are STEM related,” he explained. “It’s a great event to help those who compete prepare for college.”
After all was said and done, the team from Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Buffalo, New York, was named the winner of the leadership competition, followed by West Broward High School, Pembroke Pines, Florida, in second and Sam Rayburn High School, from Pasadena, Texas, in third.
Xavier High School, from New York, New York, took top honors in the academic competition, followed by Cumberland Valley High School, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Dr. R.E. McNair High School, Jersey City, New Jersey, in third.
Cadet Matteo Moesner, from Xavier High School, said the road his team winning the Army Academics competition was something he couldn’t have imagined.
“We did well in the first and second round of online competition but didn’t actually qualify for the nationals at first. Fortunately for us a team dropped out of the competition and that’s how we were able to get in as a substitute team basically,” he said. “So initially we weren’t even supposed to be here, so we were a real dark horse candidate.”
That good fortune led to his team being able to compete and be named the national winners of JLAB’s Army Academic Competition, and to place second in the All-Service Academic Competition behind the Air Force’s team from Scripps Ranch High School from San Diego.
Moesner said while the journey wasn’t typical for his team, it been something he and his teammates won’t ever forget.
“We all agreed that it was really surreal. To go to some place where we weren’t even supposed to go, where we had to get a replacement for one of our teammates, the fact that we were able to win is just mind blowing. We’re all still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that we’re national champions,” he shared.
He also gave some advice for those who may be thinking of competing in JLAB or even joining a JROTC program.
“All it takes is dedication. You don’t lose anything by doing it and doing something like this with friends is pretty fun. Who knows where it can take you?”
The JROTC Leadership & Academic Bowl (JLAB) is a nationally recognized academic competition created exclusively for JROTC students. By participating, cadets learn the values of citizenship, leadership, academic competition, and college opportunity.