Alexi Kellum, Ricardo De La Cruz excell
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Cocoa Beach U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Raiders, who recently competed at the Florida JROTC Raider Championship, finished as the State Champions and the State runner-up.
Florida has 164 JROTC programs, with 67 competing at the state championship held Nov. 16 at Camp Flaming Arrow in Lake Wales.
The Florida Raider Championship divided the 67 schools into tiers based on the JROTC student population and the Cocoa Beach Raiders competed in Tier 3, which consisted of schools with over 160 Cadets in their program.
Although one of the smallest high schools by population, the CBHS Raiders beat nearly every school in the competition, as the female Raiders, led by senior Alexi Kellum, dominated their division and placed first overall in Tier 3 and Tier 2 categories.
The male team, led by senior Ricardo De La Cruz, placed second overall in their tier and was just 1.15 seconds away from placing first overall.
The program is led by retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. James DesJardin, Senior Army Instructor at Cocoa Beach High School.
The U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is one of the largest character development and citizenship programs for youth in the world.
The National Defense Act of 1916 established organized JROTC programs at public and private educational institutions. In 1964, Congress expanded the program to all military services and changed from active duty to shared support from the services and schools.
As congressionally mandated by Title 10 United States Code, Section 2031, each military service must have a JROTC program to “instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.” JROTC’s mission, “To Motivate Young People to be Better Citizens,” is the guidepost for the program’s success.
The U.S. Army’s JROTC program currently operates in more than 1,700 public and private high schools, military institutions, and correctional centers throughout the United States and overseas. Approximately 40 percent of JROTC programs are in inner-city schools, serving a student population of 50% minorities.
As JROTC students (Cadets) progress through the program, they experience opportunities to lead other Cadets. A major component of the JROTC leadership and citizenship program is female Cadets. Female Cadets make up 40 percent of the Cadet population.
The JROTC faculty is led by nearly 4,000 instructors who are retired from active duty, reserve duty, or National Guard Army service. Instructors are trained and qualified in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act 2007 to teach and mentor approximately 314,000 JROTC Cadets annually.