Local ROTC Unit Wins Big In Competition

Cadet Lt. Commander Robert Lincoln, who is a senior this year, has been part of Pearl River High's ROTC program since it began three years ago.

"Most important thing I think I'm gonna take away from this I think is self-discipline. Before I came in here I didn't have quite as much but I think now I've really improved."

Lincoln has improved, as well as his 69 other ROTC officers. They've improved to be considered one of the best units in the southeast.

On February first, this unit took first place in major mental and physical competitions between ROTC units throughout Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

"It was the first time that we've ever really gotten our teamwork skills down and we all worked together as a team. In the past we've worked sort of as a team, but not much, and this time, just everybody was a part of each other. It was just one big family," said Cadet Lt. Jennifer Rancatore.

"You have to find out what makes the kids tick. They like recognition. They need the self-discipline. They need positive choices away from some of the negative things in society today, and when you give them those things, and you give them a little room to run, they run, and our kids - that's exactly what they've done," said instructor Jim Bickerton

And running to success is something the members plan to continue. Quite a few of the students will join the armed forces upon graduation - even if the country is at war.

"I think that George W. Bush will lead us in the right direction and I support anything that he does," Rancatore said.

Dedication, commitment, and teamwork - that's what wins competitions, and that's what keeps these high school students marching in the right direction.

In winning the competition, the Pearl River unit defeated some of the best JROTC teams in the southeast, including national contenders Robertsdale High School of Alabama and Pace High School of Florida.