Cape High JROTC cadets qualify for national competition

Students perform in Junior Leadership and Academic Bowl in Washington, D.C.
September 12, 2023

As many students were winding down their academic year in the spring of 2023, the hard work and studying by the Cape Henlopen High School JROTC cadets propelled them into the Junior Leadership and Academic Bowl in Washington, D.C.

Cape High competed against 4,000 high schools, and as they have done in nine out of the last 11 years, they earned a place at two JLAB events – the Army JROTC Leadership Bowl, which took place June 18-22, and the All-Service JROTC Academic Bowl, which took place June 23-27.

Each year, the top 40 Army JROTC programs and the top 48 all-service JROTC programs travel to Washington, D.C., to display their leadership and academic skills on a national level.  

This year’s Academic Team comprised Rylee Tipton, Jenna Calhoun, Noah Calhoun and Tyler Haun. During competition, cadets competed with top students from across the nation in a high-pressure academic bowl-style event, similar to the Jeopardy! game show. Cape High students advanced to the semifinals and finished in seventh place nationally.  

The Leadership Team comprised Abigail Schaeffer, Christian Fuscellaro, Addisen Bradley and Madison Layfield. Through a showcase of their experiences in JROTC, these students represented the Cape Region with pride. 

Preparation for JLAB is a yearlong process, with a lot of studying as well as a focus on working as a team. To compete, students must be able to perform regarding their knowledge base, but they also have to work together, communicate effectively as a group and complete complex tasks with skills they have been honing all year.

Most schools, if they are successful enough to place in the national competition, will succeed to send one team. However, under the leadership of Army Junior ROTC Instructor Sgt. Richard Hurt, Cape’s JROTC program has consistently placed two teams into nationals, both Leadership Team and Academic Team, about seven times.   

“It’s been a lot of hard work, with long hours and a lot of studying,” Hurt said. “I am proud of the students’ performance and dedication.”

JROTC cadets who participate in JLAB are exposed to an intensive curriculum that hones their academic abilities to absorb and retain large amounts of information across a wide spectrum of academic topics. They also get the experience of being part of a team that competes throughout the year, with the pride of achieving a national ranking.  

Most central to the impact for these students is they are learning how to become future leaders through collaborative, hands-on learning. The experience of being in our nation’s capital, celebrating their hard work and showcasing their achievements, is an excellent way the JROTC program helps students shine. 

Students also honor their annual tradition of visiting Arlington Cemetery to pay respects to the gravesite of Major Angela Marie Erale, who is the daughter of Lt. Col. Ronald Erale, retired head of Cape High’s JROTC Program. 

JROTC is a character development and citizenship program for youth. Individual school districts in collaboration with the U.S. Army hire retired service members as instructors. ROTC curriculum offers challenging academic content and real-life experiences to help students develop a sense of personal responsibility and community service as they move through their academic career.

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