Originally created 02/20/00

JROTC drill teams put skills on display



Augusta State University's former soccer field became a military parade field Saturday as JROTC cadets showed off their skills in a preliminary drill team competition.

"This is a tune-up so they can see where they are and get ready for the area and state competitions next month," said 1st Sgt. Frank McWilliams of the Augusta State military science department, which held the event.

Of the high schools in Richmond and Columbia counties, only about six have Army JROTC programs. Four of them -- Lakeside High, Evans High, the Academy of Richmond County and Hephzibah High -- participated Saturday. The other high school JROTC programs are affiliated with the Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Omar Hicks, a junior and a drill team commander at Richmond Academy, said his squad performed well. He was pleased the group had the chance to participate Saturday.

"I'm very proud of them," he said. "This gives us a little idea of what we need to work on."

Drill team membership is an added responsibility for which the JROTC cadets volunteer. Richmond Academy has about 225 students in its Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program but only 18 in its drill team.

"The kids are taking this very, very seriously," said Maxine Abernathy, a drill sergeant from Fort Gordon who helped judge the teams. "They are giving 150 percent. It shows."

The teams competed in areas such as color guard, platoon drill, squad drill, exhibition drill and knockout, in which a drill sergeant gives a command and cadets are "knocked out" of the competition if they perform the move incorrectly.

The teams were judged on several criteria, including their precision, military bearing and execution of moves.

In addition, the drill team commander received an additional score, as did the team for its overall impression.

Each of the participating teams received a certificate and a plaque.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at (803) 441-6927.