Nease NJROTC named 5th Most Outstanding Unit in the nation


Allen D. Nease High School’s NJROTC Unit recently added yet another impressive achievement to an already successful year when it was selected the fifth Most Outstanding NJROTC Unit in the country by Naval Service Training Command.

The national honor comes on the heels of the program’s recent distinction as the Most Outstanding Unit in Area 12, which encompasses 60 schools throughout North Florida and all of Georgia, for the sixth time in seven years.

“It truly (was) a group effort, and the 234 cadets in the unit would not have received this prestigious recognition without the consistent efforts of every cadet, and especially without the guidance of our remarkable instructors,” said Cadet Cmdr. Arbelyn Short, Nease NJROTC’s outgoing battalion commander. “Earning fifth out of 583 units in the nation is absolutely incredible, and I am so thrilled that our unit was rewarded for an amazing year’s long effort.”

According to Capt. Scott LaRochelle, senior naval science instructor for Nease NJROTC, the unit’s continued success can be attributed to its standard of excellence.

“Nease NJROTC succeeds because its cadets, parents, school administration and instructors set the highest standards, then set about a course to meet those goals through hard work and dedication,” LaRochelle said. “We will never be outworked by our competitors. We have one speed, and that’s full speed ahead in all we do.”

The selection process for the award, LaRochelle said, involves the compilation of data regarding the unit’s activities and earned distinctions throughout the year.

“The 60 schools within Area 12, we all submit what’s called an End of Year Report,” LaRochelle explained. “We submit that to our Navy area manager, and he goes through the validations and makes sure the reports are accurate. He makes the choice and he chooses the No. 1 unit in Area 12.”

Following each of the area managers’ decisions, the top five Most Outstanding Units in the nation are selected by Naval Service Training Command in Pensacola. For NJROTC Area 12 Manager and retired Cmdr. Rustie Hibbard, Nease NJROTC stood out from the pack for its persistent commitment to excellence.

“The most remarkable aspect of their success is the extended timeframe it covers, which has included changes of instructor leadership and school administrations,” Hibbard noted. “This consistency is a true tribute to the dedication of the instructor team and the commitment of the cadet corps as a whole. They are a nationally-recognized program for that very reason.”

Even with this national distinction under the unit’s belt, however, LaRochelle confirmed that Nease NJROTC’s drive for excellence will not be letting up any time soon.

“Our goal isn’t to be one of the top programs in our area,” he said. “Our goal every year is to be the No. 1 program in our area, and then from there, our goal is to be the No. 1 program in the nation. And I don’t think those goals are born out of arrogance. We’ve got a work ethic, we’ve got a mindset and we’ve got a bunch of cadets that like to work hard, are motivated and engaged, and with each taste of success that they get, they’re inclined to work harder for it.”

Specifying marksmanship and orienteering as areas for improvement, LaRochelle said he is already looking ahead, planning ways to incorporate this year’s lessons learned into next year’s training.

“At the end of the day, it’s really (about) work ethic,” he said. “If a cadet puts the time, the effort and the energy in, success is going to follow, but we’ve got to keep the kids motivated.”