• LHS Junior ROTC hosts cadet academy

  • The Leavenworth High School Junior ROTC Pioneer Battalion conducted its New Cadet Academy Aug. 3.

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    The Leavenworth High School Junior ROTC Pioneer Battalion conducted its New Cadet Academy Aug. 3.
    New cadets attended classroom instruction covering military protocol, trained in drill and ceremonies, and received equipment and uniforms from the supply room.
    Battalion S-5 Cadet 1st Lt. Kaylynd Brown, a senior at Leavenworth High School and in her third year of JROTC, said the S-5 is in charge of public relations, marketing and communications outside of the organization. She said her element also manages the battalion social media, web page and serves as a liaison with the press.
    “We take pictures to document classroom activities, participation at competitions and cover Raider meets,” Brown said.
    Brown said the New Cadet Academy attendees are mostly freshman but may include transfer students in other grades, and its purpose is to provide orientation before school starts. She said the academy typically has 75-100 participants.
    “We have 35 attending the morning class and 30 scheduled to participate in the New Cadet Academy later today (Aug. 3),” Brown said. “The battalion has six companies that usually vary in size from 30 to 50 members each, but Delta Company has 70 this year.”
    Inside the JROTC classroom, Charlie Company Commander Cadet Staff Sgt. Erika Janasz, a junior at LHS, was involved in teaching new cadets fundamentals about participating in JROTC.
    “We prepare new cadets for what happens in the program every day during the schoolyear,” Janasz said. “This class defines company and battalion staff positions, and we teach things like identification of both enlisted and officer ranks. They also learn how to advance in rank personally and what community service events are required.”
    Janasz said serving as a company commander was a new position for her, and she expects the job to be fulfilling. She said her primary goal is to communicate well.
    “It’s going to be exciting and it’s going to be lots of hard work,” Janasz said. “I want to maintain excellent communication with the battalion leadership, disseminate information to keep the cadets prepared each day, and ultimately win the honor company award this year.”
    Brown said the battalion’s armed and unarmed honor guards compete each year and often travel. She said the Pioneer Guard is the armed guard, and the Cavalry Angels are unarmed.
    Both teams compete in events like the U.S. Army Cadet Command JROTC National Drill Championships in Louisville, Ky. and the National All Services High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla., Brown said.
    “There are a limited number of positions in both Pioneer Guard and Cavalry Angels for competitions, so cadets are always practicing to keep their spot,” she said.
    Page 2 of 4 - Cadet Sgt. James Graham, a senior and the JROTC Color Guard commander, said his element supports more than 90 events each year. He said the color guard also supports activities during the summer.
    “We’ve recruited lots of sophomores, and we have many events scheduled again this year,” Graham said. “My favorite aspect is the training and watching our team progress.”
    Cadet Sgt. John Yates, a junior, is the exhibition drill team commander for the Pioneer Guard. He said his practices start during the second week of school.
    “We’re trying to recruit as many people as we can. We have a performance block of 12 people and train cadets to the standard,” Yates said. “We start training without rifles, movements, then work up to spinning rifles. I joined because guard looked like fun and when I tried out, I enjoyed it.”
    Cadet Capt. Victoria Ruebhausen, a senior and commander of the Cavalry Angels, said she has participated in drill team four consecutive years.
    “It takes a long time to teach what we do. We have about 20 girls to start the year,” Ruebhausen said. “We look pretty good, and they are learning quickly.”
    Ruebhausen said the Cavalry Angels practice about 12 hours each week and will be competing in four meets toward the goal of going to nationals again this year. She said it takes a lot of practice and dedication to be on the team, but it pays off.
    Last year, the team placed second at the National All Services High School Drill Team Championships.
    Cadet 1st Lt. Chace James, the commander of the rifle team, said nine cadets were currently participating in two competitive rifle teams so far this year. He said the program requires training and testing before admission on the team.
    “Our precision team and our sporter teams have slightly different requirements,” James said. “Both classes of teams shoot a .177 caliber pellet at targets and compete in meets.”
    Brown said the Drum and Bugle Corps is the JROTC’s musical unit. She said rehearsals are before school in the morning.
    “The Drum and Bugle Corps provides music during functions at the local schools, school assemblies, and other events like Royals games,” Brown said. “It also leads the entire corps of cadets during the Leavenworth Veterans Day Parade.”
    Drum and Bugle Corps Commander Cadet Staff Sgt. Margaret Collins, a junior, said she anticipates a good year for the unit because there are many returning members.
    “We practice twice a week for an hour and a half to two hours in the morning,” Collins said. “I’m also a percussionist in the school marching band and concert band. It’s enjoyable to perform for people.”
    Page 3 of 4 - Cadet Cpl. Dalton White, a sophomore, and the Drum and Bugle Corps first sergeant, said his musical background and versatility had helped the unit at various times.
    “I joined because I enjoy all aspects of music. I play a brass instrument, which was needed, so I decided to get involved and help out,” White said. “My goals this year are to benefit Drum and Bugle Corps as best I can and help it grow.”
    Battalion Command Sergeant Major Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Daylan Williams, a junior, said he is anticipating a good year for the JROTC program. He said the entire program’s goals and expectations for this year are realistically high.
    “The battalion and our programs are beginning to shape up based on the recruitments we’ve had and personally seeing things like the positive energy at the Raiders practices in the mornings,” Williams said. “Everyone is excited. You can feel that energy from the staff, too.”
    Brown said the Raider Team is a unique program formally recognized by Army JROTC and the U.S. Army Cadet Command. She said it started at Leavenworth High School as a Ranger platoon in 1961 and was the first in the nation to be formed by a high school JROTC program.
    “The male and female teams compete against other Raider Teams in outdoor adventure-styled events throughout the schoolyear,” Brown said. “They have hell week during the first week of school which involves rigorous physical activities.”
    Cadet Cpt. Javon Evans, a senior and the male Raider Team commander, said team prospects look promising. He plans to enroll in a ROTC program in college toward achieving his goal of becoming a Marine Corps officer.
    “We have several strong freshmen coming in, which is awesome,” Evans said. “After hell week the team will be set for the entire schoolyear. We’ll have alternates who may compete as substitutes for various reasons as well.”
    Battalion S-4 Cadet Capt. Hailey Sundblom, a senior at Lansing High School, said she is responsible for helping faculty cadre keep the supply room inventory organized. She said 300 uniforms with related equipment would be issued to cadets during the second week of school as well.
    “Working in S-4 is an excellent opportunity to show younger cadets an example of anything is possible,” Sundblom said. “When the opportunity for this job came about, I went for it.”
    Battalion Commander Cadet Lt. Col. Morgan Savage, a senior, said said communication and camaraderie are top priorities.
    “I want to see our cadets involved in JROTC special teams and participate in activities at our school,” Savage said. “The calendar is filled with lots of activities for our various elements. I hope to attend as many as possible.”
    Page 4 of 4 - Savage, who said she has already received her acceptance letter to attend Kansas State University after graduation, plans to join Air Force ROTC in college. She said industrial engineering is her intended major and JROTC is a significant part of her initial success.
    “JROTC at LHS is a cadet-run leadership and citizenship program, and the faculty cadre is here to supervise primarily,” Savage said. “We have our cadet rank structure and chain of command, which progressively develops leadership skills from within our ranks. Lots of peer mentoring occurs here.”
    Senior Army Instructor retired Lt. Col. Eric Hollister said the JROTC Pioneer Battalion is more than 100 years old and has had a military science and tactics program in place since 1896. He said the cadet-led organization has a unique legacy.
    “Leavenworth owns the distinction of having the first official JROTC program in the country,” Hollister said. “This JROTC program has been in existence since 1917.”
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