Committed cadets

NJROTC wins second place in statewide competition


Claire Delaire

NJROTC finishes their lap around the field from afternoon practice with Navy Captain John Markley.

NJROTC won second overall in a statewide competition, the Lions Challenge, in McKinney on April 15. For many in NJROTC, this is a cathartic pay-off for their hard work and effort.

“The award we won was second place overall with a couple [individual] second place and two third place medals; it was fun,” senior officer Zander Leza said. “This is my eighth time attending, and we were very emotional. We were happy, especially for our seniors because they’ve gone through so much to achieve this. And it was very, very inspiring and very rewarding to receive this trophy.”

Throughout the cadets years of service in NJROTC, the class bonded from their shared experiences and interests, and their trials and tribulations created a common friendship. 

“We were very surprised,” Leza said. “We knew we were going to get one of the placements [in the competition], but it was just one of those times where it just feels like it was unreal. We did so much to achieve this and it’s just very emotional at the same time.”

Students share the desire to grow and learn as people, and NJROTC gives them a place and purpose. It helps them with lifelong career choices and preparing students for their futures. 

“[NJROTC is] very good for discipline, friendship and team building, and becoming a better person in general,” Leza said. “[We do that] through meeting new people, going to events outside the school and doing stuff for the school, especially representing NJROTC on Instagram.”

NJROTC got to see their hard work and effort come out through the competition events. Their service came through a lot of training, both mentally and physically, that caused a large amount of bonding throughout the class. 

“We tried our hardest,” chief petty officer Bryson Carrol said. “The bus ride back was emotional. A lot of people bonded over it. I got closer with a lot of people from the program after that. It was just a great experience all around and it got me out of my comfort zone.”

The leadership opportunity allows for students to care about the growth of various aspects in their lives, including future career choices and their growth in specific exercises. This helps them all stay on pace. 

“Motivation is this, you set the bar,” Navy Captain John Markley said. “You don’t try to pass other people’s bars or start competitions with other people. You make sure you do your very best and don’t think of what other people are doing.”