Cadets to drill with other schools from around region.
Clarksdale High School hosted a JROTC drill meet with several schools throughout the region Saturday morning and came in third place in the unarmed exhibition event.
Major Freddie Davis has organized the event at CHS for the past seven years. CHS won the drill meet the first two years, but has not come out on top since. Armed regulation, unarmed regulation, armed exhibition and color guard were the other events at the meet.
The CHS students were more prepared for the unarmed exhibition.
“It’s probably because the actual event we can, no matter what competition we go to, we can always do unarmed exhibition because those are drills and commands they created themselves, so they don’t have to change,” Davis.
With no weapon, the team was able to march and create movement.
“We need to improve on unarmed regulation and armed regulation,” Davis said. “Unarmed means that you don’t have a weapon, but there’s regulation drills that you must do, so we need to improve that. We need to improved armed regulation as well. If we improve armed regulation, that means we’ll improve armed exhibition.”
Eighty-seven high school students in the Clarksdale district are in the JROTC program for the 2019-20 school year.
Davis said the goal is to either have 10 percent of the students or 100 total students in the program. The goal of 10 percent was met.
Davis started the Clarksdale Municipal School District JROTC program 11 years ago. He was in Washington D.C. for the majority of his years in the Army, did three tours at the Pentagon, three tours at Fort Meade, was in Maryland where the national security agency is, did one tour at Fort Belvoir, went to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy and served at Armed Forces Network at Republic of South Korea.
The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corp were all in the JROTC competition even though CHS has an Army JROTC.
Juniors Robert Wright and Breanna Jones have been in JROTC for all three years of high school and talked about their experiences both Saturday and in the program.
Wright is a cadet commander and in charge of the whole battalion.
“My uncle (Major Earl Ervin) introduced me to the program and said that it’s a good chance for me to get into a college that I wanted to go to,” Wright said.
He originally intended to attend Mississippi State University, but his sister, Natalie Hill, introduced him to San Jose State in California where he plans to major in psychology and join the ROTC program.
Wright was a squad leader for unarmed regulation during the drill meet.
“We can march, but at the same time, we can’t,” he said. “We need to work on our column lefts, the column rights. We just need to work on our footwork.”
Jones is the human resources personnel director in the JROTC program and hopes to go into the Army,
She performed unarmed regulation and assisted with trophies at the drill meet.
“The things we need to work are the marching with the unarmed regulation team,” she said. “I think we did good on the exhibition team that got third place. I’m very proud of that.”
Jones encouraged other students to join JROTC.
“To any students that are thinking about coming to JROTC, it is a great and wonderful program to help you through school,” she said. “It’s just not Army and what people think it is. It’s the life situations growing up. It’s through everything. It’s a fun program to be in.”
“The mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens, but I think our program, we’re trying to push them a little bit further,” he said. “We want them to be tax contributors and not tax burden, so we do life skills.”
Davis said one example is, when the JROTC program travels, they rarely eat at fast food places that are in Clarksdale.
“We’ve produced, I think, three commission officers out of our program where they actually go to college and enroll in Senior ROTC,” Davis said. “I can think, there were three cases where I was presented a coin by these officers. The tradition is the first salute given to a non-commissioned officer, so I’ve gotten three coins, but we’ve produced other officers as well.”
The North region competition with 20 schools is Nov. 2 in Batesville. The state competition is in Jackson in January. The top five teams of each of the four regions go to the state.
There is also an athletic competition the program participates in and the military ball is Feb. 22 in the CHS gym.