Tinian JROTC Hosts First Ever Leadership Corps Cadet Challenge

By: C/1LT Ismail Hossain

After many months of planning to prepare for this event, Tinian High School hosted the CNMI PSS’s very first Leadership Corps Cadet Challenge Competition. Students from five Middle Schools flew down to Tinian to compete in the different events last Saturday. They were Chacha Oceanview Middle School, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, Dandan Middle School, Hopwood Middle School, and Rota’s Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr. Sr. High School.  Tinian Jr/Sr HS middle schoolers joined in the competition to form a total of 36 Leadership Corps Cadets participating in the event. 

This is the first time a Cadet Challenge Competition for Middle School Students has been held.  This was also the first time Tinian High School hosted a CNMI-Wide middle school competition. PSS Senior Director for Student and Support Services, Dr. Bonnie Pangelinan, who helped organize the event commented “I think it is a great opportunity for students from Rota and Saipan to see Tinian especially for students that have never been on Tinian before.  I feel that it’s important for them to network with their fellow cadets on Tinian and be able to hold friendship competitions here.”

Students running on the Tinian High School Parking lot as they compete in the grueling 1-Mile Run.

Dandan Middle School Principal James Sablan who came down in support of the students that were competing stated “It’s a great way to recognize especially how the Middle School Leadership Corps program is. It shows not only physical aspects of the kids but really on the character and leadership skills. We want our students to be strong leaders. So this is one way of them being prepared to become great leaders in our society eventually.”

As the students arrived on campus, they were introduced to their graders, who were cadets of the Tinian High School’s Stallion Battalion. They then held a formal opening ceremony with the presentation of colors and opening remarks by Captain Joseph A. Santos, the Senior Army Instructor of the Tinian JROTC Program. They were then followed by demonstrations of each category by Army Instructor 1SG Jose King and other Stallion Battalion cadets. Students then broke up into their assigned graders and went off to their assigned station.

In the Cadet Challenge, participants challenge themselves to get the best score in five events.  V-Sit Reaches measures flexibility.  Curl-Ups measure abdominal strength. Pull-Ups or the Flex Arm Hang measures upper body strength. The Shuttle Run measures speed and agility.  Finally the 1-mile run measures endurance.  After completing an assigned station, the group would rotate and head for the next station.  The last event for all was the mile run.

When we asked their thoughts on being able to compete in a Cadet Challenge Competition, Bryan Cabrera from RHI commented, “I thought it was a fun experience and I thought everyone had fun, and we could challenge ourselves and see how we could improve and compete.” 

Juan Banacia from Dandan Middle School felt grateful to have been able to come down and participate. “To be honest it’s an honor and I feel incredibly honored. I think everyone did well and I am looking forward to the next one.”

We also asked them what their favorite event was during the challenge. Many found the One-Mile run as their favorite. “For me it was the Mile Run. I wouldn’t want to say easy but it was challenging and overall fun because my classmates kept encouraging each other to keep up with each other and not fall behind.” John Peter Quidato from Hopwood Middle School stated.

Others had different opinions as they were able to beat their old records. Kedar Shrestha of Tinian Jr. Sr. High School stated, “I think out of all of these I think pull-ups because I beat my personal record.”    

By the end of the day, the students gathered one last time with their graders for an awards ceremony. Hopwood Middle School came out in 3rd Place, followed by Dandan Middle School who gained the 2nd Place Spot. Francisco M. Sablan Middle School came out victorious in the Competition and won 1st Place.

Other than awards for the top 3 schools, the top male and female cadets were also recognized for their performance. The “Top Male Cadet Award” was presented to DeAnthony Aldan from Francisco M. Sablan Middle School. Tinian Jr. Sr. High School’s Ysabella Lenteja claimed the “Top Female Cadet Award.”   

The instructors of each school felt proud of how their students did during the event. Mr. Jeffrey Bacani of Francisco M. Sablan Middle School remarked, “I spoke to them and I told them to leave nothing but their best so there are no regrets after. They pushed through and they came through, they did their best and I can’t be more proud of them.”

Mr. Edwin Orilla of RHI stated, “I am glad to see them pushing everything that they have. Even though in the end the results may not be what they wanted, but as long as they have the will to try, that is all I am asking for.”

Not only were the Leadership Corps Instructors impressed by their cadets’ performance but with the graders as well! Cadets of the Stallion Battalion were excited to meet the students from off-island and to see them challenge themselves.  

C/MAJ Chad Acollador was amazed by how well they did. She stated “it just made me more motivated and inspired me to continue what I am doing, because the outcome of what happened today is what I am looking for and it inspires me to do more events like this.”

“Stallion Battalion Color Guard presents the colors during the Opening Ceremony of the Competition”

C/1LT Jaedon Lenteja pointed out that the planning for the event was excellent. “I didn’t really expect much as this our first time but I think we did really well. Planning was spot on, we executed and overall we had a successful event.”

This was the first time Tinian High School has hosted an event of this magnitude. Many hope that this would pave the way for more events to take place on other islands in the CNMI. “I definitely think we should host more, not just for middle school but also for high schools. We should have more events other than being hosted on Saipan, but also on the island of Tinian and Rota. So Saipan cadets can see how things are done differently in other schools,” C/CPT Saim Ali stated.

Tinian JROTC Army Instructor 1SG Jose King felt satisfied about the event. “I know the leadership cadets are pretty happy and I can’t wait for the next one to come because we did a great job. Our cadets did a great presentation and performance at each of their stations, along with the way they performed the events, so I am pretty happy with that.”

Our Battalion is satisfied with how the challenge turned out. All the students pushed themselves and did their best in all of the events. We are honored to have been the first to host an event of this kind, and for holding it on our island. Holding events outside of Saipan is quite rare, which is why many of the cadets felt excited and willing to help. We hope that our school gets more opportunities to host events of this size on our own island, and we look forward to what is to come in the future.

Top Photo: Students along with their instructors gather for a group photo at the First Annual Leadership Corps Cadet Challenge at the Tinian Jr. Sr. High School Campus