ROTC marches to victory

Andrew Yarznbowicz, Ashley Mullin, Michael Symanski, Janvee Patel, Isabella Pelizza, Malli Khokhal, Kevin Rodriguez, and Yara Al-Zubaidi stand at attention while Flight Commander Brianna Pelaez-Callejas gets into position to prepare to march.


            While many students saw the AFJROTC in action for the first time during their pep rally performance, the group has racked up victories and accolades throughout the school year.  

            On November 19, the team kicked off the competition season at the Drill Competition at West Orange Highschool with great results. Andrew Yarznbowicz said, “We earned both first place in armed inspection and new cadet by beating every other school in those categories, and then we placed third beating all but two schools!” 

            The Drills Competition included a series of events where the Regulation team, armed and unarmed Inspection team, and Color guard were all judged on a scale from 0-100.  “Basically, armed and unarmed refer to if a team is using decommissioned rifles or not. Regulation teams are the ones where you complete a sequence of marching,” explained Andrew Yarznbowicz, who commanded both armed and unarmed Color Guard.  

Andrew Yarznbowicz, Janvee Patel, Kevin Rodriguez, Ashley Mullin, Isabella Pelizza, Yara Al-Zubaidi, Malli Khokhal, and Brianna Pelaez-Callejas perform an armed regulation routine at the Winter Pep Rally.

            Achieving such an accomplishment required a lot of practice. “We dedicate hours,” explained Corp Commander Chloe Cardenas. “The weeks leading up to the competition, we practice after school until 3:45 nearly every day. We put hours into practicing each sequence with the commanders having to memorize up to 65 commands. Cadets show up, put their best foot forward, and give drill their all!”  

            The ROTC team also did fantastic at their competition in Piscataway on January 21, placing first, second, or third in every event. They dominated in the drill category, having two cadets, junior Zoe Milonopoulos and sophomore Kevin Rodriguez, place in the Knockout competition. “There’s a lot of great teachers who taught me what I’m doing,” said Milonopoulos. “Having a great base gave me most on my knowledge for knockout.” 

Andrew Yarznbowicz, Janvee Patel, Ashley Mullin, Kevin Rodriguez, Isabella Pelizza, Michael Symanski, Yara Al-Zubaidi, and Domenika Popovych stand in closed interval, awaiting an order to expand from Brianna Pelaez-Callejas.

            Alongside Knockout, they placed in many other events. The ROTC team came in first for new cadet armed inspection and regulation, second in unarmed inspection and armed exhibition solo, and third for unarmed regulation, armed color guard, and academics. New cadet Samantha Prado Roberts, a sophomore, explained, “I am always going through the sheet of facts we have with the rest of my team to be the best we can.” 

            The success running rampant throughout the team motivates all the cadets. “It encourages me to keep on practicing and going to competition and getting better at drill,” shared junior Janvee Patel.  

            The ROTC squad c will look to continue their success at their next competition on March 11 in Newburgh, NY. 

Posted on 2/21/23 

Photos by Katelyn Buchalter

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