KEESLER AFB, BILOXI (WLOX) - Hundreds of high schoolers put their skills, discipline, and determination to the test at Keesler Air Force Base on Friday. It was the third annual State JROTC Drill Championship.
The precision, the practice, the preparation all led up to this championship.
"The time that they've put in for this, they've worked really hard for this," said Gina Dobbs, JROTC mom.
The top 18 JROTC programs from across the state converged on Keesler Air Force Base to find out who was the best of the best. Those who came to support these students were blown away by what they saw.
"Man, it's great. These kids are sharp out here. I'm really impressed with them. They've done a fine job today," said Vernon Mayo after watching his son, Robby, compete for Hancock High School.
As for Robby, he felt empowered.
"I can do anything now. With a little discipline I'll be fine," he said.
That's the same feeling Robby's friend, Alexis Arabie, had after making it to this championship.
"I thought it was going to be tough at first, but I love it. It's amazing," Alexis said.
It's the focus and determination shown by these students that Capt. John Lewis puts under the microscope. He's the JROTC Bureau Director for the Mississippi Department of Education.
"What I'm looking at here is teamwork. We're looking at precision. We're looking at attention to detail. We're looking at communication skills," said Lewis.
All of these things are checked off by a panel of judges who make sure every I is dotted and every T crossed.
"You have to compete with the best if you want to be the best, and that is a learning experience for our cadets," said Lewis.
That's the kind of experience Lewis says could lead these students to bright futures.
The 2016 Mississippi All-Services JROTC Drill Champion was Biloxi High School's JROTC.