The Elkin High School JROTC completed this school year mission by solidifying a goal to become better citizens, learning the importance of support and encouragement of one another as a team; and establishing an award-winning Raider competition team.
The cadets demonstrated a pizzazz and strength in squad drills including individual, squad, duet and platoon and brought their roster up to 56 members. They impressed faculty and student body with their precision and dedication in several finale demonstrations.
Elkin High School JROTC instructors Maj. Roy Ferguson and 1st Sgt. Kenneth Abrams led the drills as the cadets demonstrated accomplished knowledge of every directive in a polished fashion that brought shouts and claps of appreciation in a drill expo for the student body near the year’s end.
The JROTC’s performance encompassed both athleticism, discipline and professionalism. One teacher commented on what leaders her former students had become through the program.
After Senior Raider Seth Haynes won a last man standing-drill performance during a finale high school performance, he said about being in the JROTC, “It makes me feel proud, honored and confident.”
In the drill finale, the cadets were challenged to stay in the line up with increasingly difficult directives from Ferguson and Abrams, moves they had honed to perfection over the school year.
At a recent year-end awards ceremony, Elkin cadets wore every earned merit badge on new uniforms, which school administrator Barbara Long had fitted and hemmed. In earning the badges, all cadets started at zero but none remained, as they progressed with every accomplishment. In addition, by the end of the year 90 percent were CPR certified.
At the ceremony, cadets received a litany of awards from veterans who handed out awards. Raider member Erick Fuentes received the highest honor finishing his senior year with the Order of the Purple Heart Award.
Ferguson said he was proud of every single one of the 2014 cadets accomplishments and he said the group of cadets were exceptional as people.
He said there is not one iota from this team that should not be recognized when it comes to their hard work, dedication and how they helped to popularize the JROTC program and its meaning. In addition, the seniors finished well, showing both strength and leadership abilities as individuals and overall. Those characteristics will depart with them in whatever career path they choose, said Ferguson.
He said the leadership and team chemistry of the 2014 group was a unique one and looks to a strong roster with a foundation that has been strengthened by their leadership.
Ferguson emphasized, “The JROTC mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens.”
In order to achieve that goal, Ferguson said he and Abrams worked together during the 2014 high school year specifically to make the cadets physically, mentally and spiritually stronger.
Earlier in the year, the Elkin HS JROTC Raider team competed in the “Best of the Best Raider Competition” in Ridgeway, Virginia, at Magna Vista High School and finished 12th against 23 of the best high school teams from Virginia and North Carolina.
Ferguson said, “First Sgt. Abrams and myself are proud to have established a Raider team this year and committed to their future excellence.” He said they would continue to recruit good cadets to build the program.
It was the first time that Elkin’s Raider team competed among the best teams in the 4th Brigade. The 4th Brigade is headquartered in Fort Bragg.
Members of the Elkin Raider A team were Walker Longworth, Aaron Sturdavant, John Walker, Daniel Cortez, Marco Bravo, Grant Lloyd, Kali Thomas, Erick Fuentes and Luis Anorve. The alternates were Kylie Thomas, Michael Carter and Karla Fuentes.
Presently, several cadets are attending Oak Ridge Military Academy in Kernersville in a week-long camp in what was termed “a fairly intense military style of camp.” They are Alex Dickerson, Grant Lloyd, Amy Jazier, Emily Rodriguez and Matthew Waddell. The camp is anticipated to be full of activities form 5 a.m. till lights out until lights out, said Ferguson.
Throughout the year the Elkin High JROTC made a difference in the community by reaching out to help veterans’ causes and by visiting the sick and elderly.
Ferguson said they remembered the importance of having fun in the midst of all the seriousness. All season, they participated in the recreational activities of camping, rappelling off Raven Knob, fishing, canoeing and spending time together as friends.
He said, “Jesus has blessed our program tremendously this year and the cadets are proudly taking ownership of it and are proud of what we our doing. Our program is successful because First Sgt. Abram and I work together very well with common goals for the cadets. And God has blessed our obedience to Him.”
Seniors contributing to the 2014 Elkin High School JROTC program were: Erick Fuentes; Daniel Cortes, executive officer; Marco Bravo; Courtney Cobler; Walker Longworth, commander; Paul Fluet; Josiah Blevins; Aaron Harles; Brandon Bradley; Jeremy Pierce; Seth Haynes; William Allen; Kyle Myers; Michael Carter; and Alen Burrell.
Abrams has been at Elkin High School for 16 years and it is Ferguson’s first year. Ferguson taught college ROTC at Western Carolina and Wake Forest and it is his seventh year at the high school level.
Ferguson said Abrams committed to building an outstanding drill team and Raider team, and along with exceptional classes that can be used by the cadets in real life situations such as CPR and resume writing. They are working together in all goals, he said.
Ferguson said Elkin High School is supportive of the program, and both instructors are appreciative.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.