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KAPOLEI — More than 400 cadets from 19 schools across Oahu, the island of Hawaii and Japan showed their drill expertise at the Pacific Region JROTC Drill Championship at the Hawaii Army National Guard’s Rainbow Hangar, here, April 8, 2017.
Cadets from four branches unfurled colors, tossed rifle replicas and marched in sync in what was their last drill meet of the year, to be hailed as the best JROTC drill teams in Hawaii, Guam and Japan. The schools annually compete in four meets.
“Drill is an integral part of our program,” said Army Lt. Col. Antoinette Correia, the JROTC program manager for the Hawaii State Department of Education.
The HIDOE office is in charge of coordinating the competition. Kapolei High School hosted the competition for the third year in a row.
Showing their stuff
Correia said that through the competition, the cadets are able to represent their school, unite as a team, compete and show what they’ve learned during the year.
“How they place in the drill meet (is) a reflection on how much they studied, how much they practiced throughout the whole school year,” she said.
The cadets competed in three categories: regulation drill, exhibition drill and color guard. Cadets used replicas of M1903 Springfield rifles, M1 Garand rifles, as well as service regulation-sized flags and staffs for their routines.
She added that she liked to watch the exhibition drill, a recent DOE initiative that encourages cadets to come up with their own drill routine.
“(With) regulation you can’t change,” she said. “But (with) the exhibition (drill) you can get fancy. There are some ground rules, but the creativity is very important.”
Among the competitors was a team from Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokosuka, Japan. Saturday was Kinnick Cadet Lt. Dianne Atienza’s 11th drill meet.
Atienza said that through the drill competitions she learned to be “confident and sharp, but most importantly, to respect a lot of the teams.” In addition, she learned to be humble, which is what she tells her fellow cadets.
She said it was an honor to represent the Far East at this competition. She added that some of the cadets are military children.
“We really appreciate the military,” Atienza said. “(During drill competitions,) it’s really cool meeting other people from other places.”
The Konawaena High School Army JROTC team also represented Hawaii in the U.S. Army Cadet Command JROTC National Drill Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It was cold,” said Konawaena High Cadet Capt. Julia Lim, with a laugh. “There (are) a lot of really good teams there. You could see they really worked hard to be there. There (are) a lot of schools, and you know they’re all the best of the best.”
Lim said that it was an intimidating, but good experience, at nationals. She was scared because it was her first time commanding regulation drill. As for Saturday’s event, she said the competition was fun, and the team had practiced for this event every day after school, occasionally on the weekend and during spring break.
“It takes a lot of teamwork and concentration,” she said of drill.
Konawaena Cadet Capt. Cedrick Santos, who has been to the nationals twice, agreed that it was intimidating.
“They (were) all there to win, and they all practice every day,” Santos said about the competition in Kentucky. “It seemed harder over there.”
Santos said he enjoyed teamwork and dedication of drill competitions, and when they prevail.
“The primary purpose of drill competitions is to provide cadets a venue where they can exhibit leadership, teamwork and discipline – attributes they are taught in the JROTC program,” said retired Col. Jason Seal, the senior Marine instructor for the Kapolei High School Marine Corps JROTC. “These qualities can be beneficial for any future professional endeavor.”
Pacific Region JROTC Drill Championships
1st overall: Kapolei High School
2nd overall: Kalaheo High School
3rd overall: Aiea High School
1st novice overall: Kapolei High School
2nd novice overall: Farrington High School
3rd novice overall: Kalaheo High School
1st expert overall: Kinnick High School
2nd expert overall: McKinley High School
3rd expert overall: Waianae High School