Nease NJROTC trains 54 incoming cadets


Eight weeks ago, they were middle school graduates walking across the stages at Valley Ridge Academy, Pacetti Bay, Landrum and several other St. Johns County School District middle schools.

Now, the 54 students are graduates of Nease NJROTC’s weeklong summer Basic Cadet Training (BCT) program. Modeled after military boot camp training environments, the program required trainees to complete a demanding schedule of physical fitness, basic drill movements, and JROTC customs and courtesies, programs and opportunities. The week culminated with a field trip to Naval Station Mayport in the morning followed, by a formal military-style graduation ceremony.

The training was led by Nease’s senior cadets, most of whom participated in the BCT program as incoming freshmen when they first joined the program. This group, known as cadre, filled the roles of the drill instructors, safety officers, medics, operations, supply, athletics, administration and public affairs officers.

“As challenging a week as this was for the trainees, it was every bit as demanding for the cadre,” 2nd Platoon Drill Instructor Cali Vaughn said. “I never fully appreciated that leadership required this much work!”

The 54 trainees were divided into four platoons that competed all week in a series of academic, athletic and drill competitions. Senior cadet Brian Swicegood’s 4th Platoon received the notable designation as Honor Platoon.

Two of the new trainees, cadets Anna Hampton and Nick Thoresen, received honors as the top incoming cadets for their overall performance during the week.

Nease NJROTC begins the 2016-17 year as the reigning Most Outstanding Unit in Navy JROTC Area 12, which encompasses 59 high school programs in Northern Florida and the state of Georgia.