The Naval Service Training Command has selected Nease as the Most Outstanding NJROTC Unit in the Nation for 2021-22, with the local team taking top honors over the 583 NJROTC programs worldwide.
The powerhouse program in Ponte Vedra has been a perennial contender for national honors, having finished as the number two program in 2021. The selection is based on an evaluation of academic achievements, competitions, orientation activities, summer training programs, school service projects, community service activities, extracurricular activities and annual inspection results.
This announcement followed Commander Johnathan D. Shaw, Navy JROTC Area-12 manager, announcing Nease as the Most Outstanding Unit in Area-12, a region encompassing 60 schools covering the 13 NJROTC programs in Northeast Florida and 47 across the entire state of Georgia for the fifth consecutive year.
“There’s immense pressure every year for the seniors to keep Nease on top,” said Battalion Commander Isabella Rivera who has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. “We take our leadership roles seriously. And now we can pass on the torch to next year’s class with our mission completed.”
This year marks the second time Nease has taken home top honors. In 2015, Nease was named the Most Outstanding Unit in the Nation.
“They say it takes a village to feed a child, well in the JROTC world, it takes a community of cadets, parents, school administrators and instructors pulling in the same direction to ascend a program to this height,” said senior naval science instructor Capt. Scott LaRochelle who is retiring after eight years at the helm of the program. “Nease NJROTC epitomized a ‘one team, one fight’ unified effort.”
Nease’s main identity is its drill team that competes in a compilation of 10 academic, athletic and drill individual events at 12-16 school meets. This past year, Nease placed first at Sprayberry (Georgia), Lee County (Georgia), Martin Luther King (Georgia), Mandarin (Florida), Flanagan (Florida) and Area-12 State Championship and third overall at the Navy National Academic, Athletic and Drill Championships.
Among other noteworthy achievements, Nease also won first place in athletics, academics, air rifle and orienteering competitions across Florida and the state of Georgia. Cadets completed 5,800 community service hours. And nine seniors received service academy appointments or ROTC scholarships.
“It starts and ends with character building,” said naval science instructor Gunnery Sergeant Duane Hanson. “The solid foundation of character development our cadets acquire in the program will serve them well now and later in life.”
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