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Local ROTC cadets win 14 awards

High school students compete against teams from 65 schools

Posted: April 28, 2009 9:16 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2009 6:00 a.m.
 
Fifty-five students from Valencia, West Ranch and Saugus high schools brought home 14 awards during the Golden Bear National Drill Meet on Saturday.

The high school-aged cadets, part of the William S. Hart Union High School District's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), known as CA-782 AFJROTC, competed against 65 schools from California, Arizona, Guam and the Philippines, Master Sergeant Fred Malcomb said.

A total of 248 teams from the schools took part in the competition at Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

Valencia High School sophomore Patrick Dunkel served as a drill team commander. He won first place as Outstanding Commander during the weekend competition.

Dunkel, 15, called the competition a "once-in-a-lifetime" event.

"The stress I was under will prepare me for life," he said. "Not only have I learned how to be a leader, I've also improved myself."

The ROTC program has allowed Dunkel to build more confidence in himself, he said.

The meet is one of the bigger competitions for the cadets and the students were able to succeed despite setbacks early on.

"We had a huge change in leadership for this last competition. The kids pulled through so well," Malcomb said.

ROTC trains students to become better leaders and better citizens, Malcomb said.

"We want them to become leaders and become better citizens for their community," he said, later adding, "Our kids are the genuine leaders of the valley," Malcomb said.

High school students who join ROTC take part in a range of careers after graduation.

Six ROTC cadets have made it to military academies, with three at West Point and three preparing for the Air Force Academy, Malcomb said.

Aside from competitions and training, cadets contribute to their communities by spending hours volunteering.

For instance, about 50 cadets will be helping out during this weekend's Taste of the Town event, Malcomb said.

Cadets volunteered about 265 events last year, Malcomb said.

As a whole, the roughly 100 cadets contributed 5,000 hours in community service. Individually, that breaks down to 50 to 60 hours a cadet, Malcomb said.

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