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MHS JROTC cadets learn leadership together

Often filled with cliques and cliches, high school can be a challenging place to thrive.

But that’s exactly what 125 cadets in the MacArthur High School JROTC Highlander Battalion are doing — and their efforts are paying off.

Last month, the battalion was named grand champion of the Mansfield High School JROTC Drill Meet in Mansfield, Texas. Cadet 2nd Lt. Bailey Ruggieri and Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Naschelle Morris also brought home top medals for Unarmed Drill Team Command and Female Color Guard Command, respectively.

The cadets compete at a handful of drill meets each year, typically all in Texas. According to the Ruggieri and Morris, this is the first year since they’ve been a part of JROTC the program is off to such a solid start.

“We were all hugging and crying,” said Morris of their reaction to taking first place in Mansfield. “I was very happy. It’s a good feeling when we get to really be a team like that. ... Hopefully we keep that streak up.”

On Nov. 23, the cadets will travel to Wichita Falls for their next drill meet. They’ll be preparing all month, but they don’t mind the hard work.

“It brings us closer,” Morris said. “We spend so much time together practicing and competing.”

“My entire friend group is built of people in the program,” added Ruggieri, “so it’s honestly where I want to be.”

Once a week, the MHS JROTC students don matching dress blues and gather in Maj. Craig Redfearn’s classroom.

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