It’s been a busy season for the Nease Navy JROTC, as they held their 23rd annual Navy Ball in late February and won the Area 12 Drill Championships this month.
The Navy Ball was hosted at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, and celebrated the unit’s top national program ranking while bidding farewell to its senior class.
Rear Admiral Thomas Jones, Deputy for Mission Support at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., spoke as the guest of honor. The 270 cadets, dates, parents and distinguished guests witnessed an evening filled with military pomp and circumstance. The military traditions included a formal Receiving Line, POW/MIA Ceremony, Toasts to the Armed Services, Military Cake Cutting Ceremony recognizing the oldest and youngest cadets attending, and a 14-man Sword Arch for graduating Seniors to pass through while announcing their post-graduation plans.
“The seniors have been waiting for four years to pass through the (sword) arch,” said Cadet Marcus Sanders who will be attending the United States Military Academy at West Point next year. “Tonight was a special time to reflect on how JROTC has impacted and changed my life.”
Of the 25 seniors passing through the arch, 14 plan to join the military and 11 will be going to college or trade school in the fall.
Following the formal military traditions, the 2016 Royal Court of one male and one female cadet from each class was announced. The court was selected based on factors including community service participation, popular vote and grade point average.
Two weeks later, the team won the Area 12 Drill Championships in Douglas, Ga., for the second year running. The win gives the Nease NJROTC an automatic invitation to the Navy National Drill Championships in April. Last year, Nease placed sixth overall in the championships.
Nease competed against the top Navy JROTC drill teams in Area 12, which includes high schools in northern Florida and the state of Georgia. Nease was the top performing team of the 59 participating programs.
At the drill meet Nease placed first in Personnel Inspection, Armed Exhibition, Armed Basic and Overall Drill; second in Unarmed Exhibition and Color Guard, third in Athletics and fourth in Academics. Each of the unit’s five drill teams claimed trophies at the podium for their outstanding performances.
“Having won the Area 12 Championships last year, we felt a lot of pressure to perform as well this year,” said cadet Battalion Commander Marcus Sanders. “This is a close-knit group and we all worked together to deliver our best performances.”
Nease will now travel to the Navy Nationals at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The best NJROTC units from across the country will compete on April 1-2.