Crook County NJROTC places in top 10 for national award

n The Crook County High School NJROTC program ranks at the top among some of the nation’s best and biggest programs

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Crook County High School NJROTC unit participated in a ropes course last week, which is one of the many activities they are part of throughout the year.

In a pool of 690 NJROTC programs, the local Crook County High School NJROTC has been ranked among the top 10 in the nation.
   Crook County High School Instructor, Commander Russ Robison, commented Wednesday that although Crook County didn’t place in the top five, they felt privileged to qualify for the honor of the Navy League Outstanding Unit Award. The local unit was first selected for this award for Area 13, which has 50 units — many of which have programs twice the size of Crook County.
   For the Navy League Most Outstanding Unit, Robison explained that it’s not just whether they have a good drill team.
   “It’s academics, it’s what they do for the community, what they do for the school, and what we do for these kids in getting through for graduation,” said Robison.
   In the case of Crook County, there were several considerations that factored into the award.
    “I had to put in an application for it,” said Robison. “This year (Crook County) was the #1 unit, so we didn’t get that last year.”
   He said this is the first time the Crook County unit has received the honor. In order to qualify for the national award, the Crook County unit had to be endorsed by the Northwest Region Manager Captain Daniel Wenceslao.
   “Each of the area managers picks their number one school,” explained Wenceslao. “A board — mainly the Navy League (eight people) — and my boss and their staff get together and they read our input and the school’s input.”
    He noted that a lot of the consideration for the award is points-based.
   “It’s hard for a smaller school to get a lot of those points. They have an end-of-year report, so they also use that as criteria.”
   Wenceslao said that last year’s Area 13 unit that was in the top 10 had more than 250 cadets in their program.
   “You look at little Crook County, which is barely over 100, but they still did great… . I thought Russ and the guys and gals at Crook County did a great job. That is why I made them my number one unit.”
   Last year, the Crook County NJROTC received the Distinguished Unit Award, with honors, for Area 13. Also in 2011, the local cadets were awarded the Governor’s Volunteer Award in the Outstanding Youth Volunteer Program category.
   For the Distinguished Unit Award, the units are ranked according to degree of excellence, the demonstration of academic performance, administration, military proficiency, and host school support. The Navy League Most Outstanding (best) Unit award is very competitive, and represents the collective efforts of outstanding and dedicated cadets, instructors, and supportive school officials.
   In his application for Nationals, Robison wrote about his cadets, “We are sincerely honored to be considered for this recognition by the Navy League. Our small unit has worked hard over the past few years, during a difficult time in the community — not only showcasing our program’s value, but truly serving to help our community. Before I came to this little Western town, after six years teaching NJROTC near Annapolis, Md., I did not realize how deeply young people could understand the importance of volunteer service and the rewards this service could bring.
   “Our goals this year were primarily centered around three major categories; increased academic achievement, increased recruiting success, and community service. We have seen positive results in all these areas. Our cadets are pursuing post-high school education in record numbers, both through the military, and in the civilian sector. I believe strongly that the foundation to the success of this unit is the trust and support our cadets receive from school officials and community members.”
   The Navy League of the United States was founded in 1902 with the encouragement of President Theodore Roosevelt. The Navy League has provided a powerful voice for a stronger sea service to Congress and the American people.
    “You guys have a great unit there,” said Wenceslao. “It has great community support.”