They are in step and in line. Naval Junior ROTC drill teams from as far as El Paso and Lubbock competed head to head for the right to represent Texas on the national stage.
Commander Mike Hale is the manager for the NJROTC program for the state and he said throughout Texas only a few teams made it to Saturday's competition.
"Sixteen teams, all who have won somewhere else, [are] representing their areas here and compet[ing] for the chance to [go for] the national championship," Hale said.
He said of all the teams participating, only two move on. And the trained military eye makes it's decision based on a number of criteria.
"Personal inspection [that] test military knowledge, their personnel grooming. [They are also judged on their marching], an academic exam, and a physical fitness competition," Hale said. "The overall score of all events will come together to select the overall winner."
For the past ten years in a row, the Flour Bluff High School drill team from the Corpus Christi area has won the national title. This year, they and the George Bush High School Team from Sugarland will compete in April for the top spot.
Only those students on the selected teams have a title shot, but Hale said all the students involved in the Naval Junior ROTC receive lifelong rewards.
"Self confidence, the self discipline and the leadership that they pick up through participating in the program," Hale said.
Hale said most people think NJROTC is a recruitment tool for the military. While some do enter a branch of the armed forces, many go on to enter the private sector and are successful.
He said the goal of the program is citizenship development.
"Our goal is to help these students be come better American citizens," Hale said.
He said the Naval Junior ROTC program gives students a sound foundation for success throughout their lives.
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