The Pleasanton High School Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB) Team took full advantage of their opportunity to compete in the 2015 JLAB National Championships. The Championships were held in Washington D. C at The Catholic University of America from 26 to 30 June 2015. The time spent in Washington D. C. was not all work for the 8th place Pleasanton Team as they took time before and after the competition to enjoy many of the major sites and activities in and around the area. Thanks to generous donations from Pleasanton Independent School District, parents several local businesses and veterans organizations, the Team departed three days early to take educational tours.
The 2015 Pleasanton JLAB Leadership Team competing in the Championships consisted of Cadet Captain Sophia Romero, Team Captain; Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Mason Moore; Cadet First Sergeant Morgan Olivarri; and Cadet Staff Sergeant Zachary Howell. LTC (retired) Alan W. Maitland, Senior Army Instructor and JLAB Team Coach accompanied the cadets.
The cadet’s early travel to Washington D. C. gave them the opportunity to walk the ground and see first-hand the history and government they have been studying this past year as part of the JLAB competition. During their visit, the students walked the grounds of historic Fort McHenry and Baltimore Harbor, the place that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem. The Team visited the Smithsonian’s American History Museum where among many exhibits, they saw the battle torn Fort McHenry United States flag. Also, they took educational tours at President Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and President James Madison’s Montpellier, the former residences of two of our Nation’s Founding Fathers. One of the Teams highlights was the privilege to take a four hour private of the Pentagon, to include the Pentagon “9-11” Memorial where they had the rare opportunity to stand in the Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) and the Under Secretary of the Army’s offices. They also saw the live play “One Destiny” at historical Ford’s Theater which re-created the day that President Lincoln was assassinated. Another highlight for the students was a privately escorted tour of our United States Capitol led by one of Congressman Henry Cuellar’s summer Interns whereby the Team was able to walk in underground tunnels linking the Congressman’s office building and the Capitol. The Team also took the “DC after Dark” bus tour to see all the major attractions at night and as part of the JLAB experienced spent an entire day walking the National Mall area to visit our Nation’s major monuments. Additional tours and sites visited included the National Holocaust Museum; Arlington National Cemetery highlighted by the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a tour of the Arlington House; Maryland’s State Capitol, America’s oldest state capitol still in continuous use and the only one to have served as the nation’s capitol and where General Washington resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army; the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis; and historic Annapolis Harbor. The students also learned how to ride and negotiate the Washington D. C. mass transit metro system during their visit.
“My favorite tours were of the Pentagon where by happenstances we greeted General Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps as he exited his private door, seeing the United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial monument, and the gravesite of Ira Hayes in Arlington Cemetery” said Cadet First Sergeant Morgan Olivarri. “One day I plan to be a Marine” adds Olivarri.
“My students let me know that I walked them more than 40 miles in and around Washington D. C. this past week said Maitland. “On the day we walked “The National Mall” monument area, they proclaimed we walked more 14.5 miles according to their walking distance apps” adds Maitland. “Thank you to our parents and donors for supporting our educational tours taken three days before the competition whereby we saw our Nations’ government and history first hand” said Cadet Captain Sophia Romero.
The top 40 Leadership Teams and the top 24 Academic Teams from across the 1,731 JROTC programs earned the opportunity to compete in the 2015 JLAB National Championships. The Pleasanton Team, finishing in 8th place, bested 1,312 Leadership Teams, from around the world that began the competition last September.
The Leadership Bowl Championships included five tests where each Team was tested on their working knowledge of JROTC Leadership theory and their ability to translate these tenants and theories to answer scenario-based critical reasoning questions, communication skills, conflict resolution, George C. Marshall’s and General Douglas MacArthur’s leadership tenants and principles, citizenship skills, and American history and government. The testing format included a media based identification responses; a Higher Order of Thinking (HOT) where students had to apply critical reasoning skills; questions taken from the two required biographies readings on Marshall and MacArthur and the “citizen soldier”; the “Gauntlet, a 10 station, hands on testing venue; and general leadership theory knowledge.
“I am extremely proud of our students who competed in this rigorous all day academic competition” said LTC (retired) Alan W. Maitland, Senior Army Instructor and JLAB Coach. “After five hours of Team testing in five different areas, our Team missed qualifying for the final championships round by 11.6 points out of a total possible 500 points” adds Maitland.
“We knew as a Team our synergy was better than ever going into the competition and now all we can do is to make sure we are in the final round next year” said Romero.
All the JLAB Leadership Teams earned the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership and General George C. Marshall Awards, two of the rarest medals a JROTC cadet may be awarded. Each year, only 160 MacArthur Leadership medals and 256 Marshall Awards are awarded to JROTC cadets who compete at the JLAB National Championships.
The Sergeant Major of the Army Congratulated Pleasanton Cadets
After returning from JLAB, the Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA), Daniel A. Dailey congratulated the 2015 Pleasanton High School’s Leadership Team for their recent accomplishments at the 2015 JLAB National Championships. SMA Dailey awarded the cadets with his “Challenge” Coin and a personal note.
In his personal note to each cadet, SMA Dailey writes: “It is my distinct pleasure to congratulate you on your outstanding participation at the 2015 JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl! I applaud you on your hard work and you should take great pride in your accomplishments. I encourage you to continuing representing the principles of leadership and wish you continued success in all your future projects. Army Strong!”