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NEWS | May 11, 2011

Summerville High School NJROTC earns most outstanding unit in area

By Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Brannon Deugan, Joint Base Charleston public affairs

Summerville High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps was recognized as the most outstanding NJROTC unit in Area Six of North and South Carolina for 2011 by the U.S. Navy League and the NJROTC Area Six manager during a ceremony at Summerville High School, May 3.

Summerville High School's NJROTC unit stood out among 67 other schools in both states during the course of the evaluation season which ran from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. The unit excelled in academics, citizenship and team competitions. The Summerville NJROTC unit is also ranked among the top 11 units nationwide.

"Winning the most outstanding unit trophy is a real honor for these kids," said retired Master Chief Garner Lamarche, a Summerville High School NJROTC instructor. "They have been chosen by the U.S. Navy League and the Area Six manager as the area's best. This honor takes into account everything the unit has done over the entire season; the students' involvement in school and community, attendance, grades and NJROTC team competitions which are marksmanship meets, drill meets and orienteering meets."

According to retired Navy Commander Griffith Jones, NJROTC Area Six manager, the area managers select the most outstanding unit in their region for the year by collecting reports from each unit on academic, professional development, citizenship and unit participation. From this information, each area manager determines the unit to nominate for the most outstanding unit award for their area.

"For a unit to be named the most outstanding unit means they had a spectacular year," said Mr. Jones. "The thing that makes Summerville's NJROTC unit standout is how most of their kids participate. It's not just that there are 220 cadets, but the fact that a vast majority of the cadets are actively involved in some aspect of the unit. It is uncommon for large groups of cadets to have such a high percentage of participation."

"The experience of being in NJROTC this year has taught me self-confidence and discipline," said Cadet Seaman Brienna Frederiksen. "The unit has allowed me the chance to learn from my mistakes and has shown me how to follow instructions from the chain of command."

According to Machinist's Mate Chief Brian Knapp, Cadet Frederiksen's stepfather and a Nuclear Power Training Unit instructor at Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station, the NJROTC program teaches high school students a sense of duty and challenges the cadets to overcome difficult situations. MMC Knapp's stepdaughter is already learning many of the things he has learned in his military career and is becoming prepared for life beyond high school.

"In all my years in the Navy I've learned about duty, discipline and self sacrifice," MMC Knapp said. "It is to the cadet's advantage to learn these life qualities while they are still in high school. One day, these kids could serve in the military and they will be successful since they developed an understanding prior to boot camp on how to put their country and others first."

"It is an amazing feeling to know our hard work has paid off in being the most outstanding unit in the area," said Cadet Chief Petty Officer Amanda Franks, a Summerville High School junior. "Team work is everything and we take pride in the fact that we came together as a unit and now we are being recognized with the trophy for being the best. This is pretty special to us."

With a staggering 7,403 hours of community service being completed by the unit, the Summerville High School cadets live by the phrases "leadership is service" and "citizenship is involvement".

"The Summerville cadets are very involved with their town," said Mr. Jones. "If there is a ceremony or an opportunity to volunteer, their unit is there supporting those events. These kids volunteered for everything from food kitchens to trash pickups and performed in numerous patriotic ceremonies. This is what really made their unit standout and is why their community and school are so proud of them."