Although both Boone’s Marine Corps and Crockett’s Navy JROTC programs have made it to the national championship before, this marks the first time two teams from the same school district have earned a place in the championships.
Both teams are in the top eight in their respective branches and will compete against the other Navy and Marine Corps units. The winning teams from the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army will then face off on the second day of the competition to claim the grand prize.
Cmdr. John Roberts, who heads Crockett’s Navy JROTC team, said he gives minimal guidance and lets the students pick the four team members to compete in the first two rounds of the competition. Although not every school registers to compete, there are 560 units in the nation and Roberts estimates at least a few hundred register each year.
Crockett’s team went to the national championship two years ago, and while they did not win the first round, Roberts said the students have been working hard this year to prepare for the competition, which he described is a “Brain Bowl-style” tournament in which teams have a limited amount of time to answer questions in different subjects.
The questions come from academic areas that you might see on an ACT test as well as JROTC military type questions, there’s also a third category for current events,” Roberts explained. “(For) a lot of these kids who are academically-oriented it’s a big deal. It’s really fun for them.”
Boone’s Marine Corps made it to nationals last year, and Maj. Steven Sessis said the students got really close to winning the first round and lost at the last minute, so the ante is up for them to bring their best back this year.
Sessis said his students practice twice a week for the competition answering questions in limited amounts of time — usually anywhere from 30 to 45 seconds for each question, depending on the subject. In addition to training their brain, he said this competition is an exercise in teamwork for his students and helps them prepare for the other side of graduation.
“All of this increased studying and preparation makes them quite capable, better enhanced, to take college prep tests so that helps them out as far as scholarships go,” he said.
From Boone, Madalyn Darnell, Jalen Bledsoe, Samantha Miller and Christopher Litteral, will be competing with senior Nolan Bledsoe acting as their coach. Kayla Royston, Jacob Phebus, Jacob Hamm, Terry Bailey and Devin Kopp will make up Crockett’s team.
The competition will take place June 22-26 and 32 teams have been selected over the four JROTC branches to compete.
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