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North High JROTC tops in academics challenge

By Staff | Dec 26, 2012

In order to be in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC), you need to be disciplined, a leader and smart.

The JROTC program at North Fort Myers High School, which has been nationally recognized, showed it has the necessary intelligence Dec. 12 by taking first place in the inaugural JROTC Academic Bowl competition at the offices of Lee County Public schools.

North Fort Myers took part along with Cypress Lake, Lehigh and Oasis of Cape Coral, with North defeating Oasis, then Lehigh in the finals to win.

The event highlighted the cadets’ academic skills in SAT and ACT questions, and, according to Sgt. 1st Class Brian Lamberton, who coached the team for the competition, the competition was fierce.

“It was a tight competition, but we did a good job. North Fort Myers leads the way down here,” Lamberton said.

According to Col. William Zacovic, Lee County JROTC Operations Officer, the schools qualified for the local competition through their participation in an online challenge held in October, with the top four teams advancing.

“We’ve had success nationally, but never had a local competition, so we tried it out this year,” Zacovic said of the event he hopes will become annual.

The North Fort Myers JROTC has been recognized in nearly all aspects.

The Raiders team went to states in the program’s physical challenge this year and placed seventh after being state runners-up last year.

“We’re very competitive. We do our best in whatever is out there,” Lamberton said. “Our goal is to make you a better person and go to college. Not necessarily join the military.”

The winning team members were team captain Victoria Schimansky, Giovanna Chambers, Austin Wohlert and Austin Stokes. The team was coached by Lamberton. The JROTC instructor is Sgt. Billy Lansberry.

Zacovic said that for the last several years, the College Options Foundation has sponsored the online versions of the national academic and leadership bowls, of which all JROTC programs are required to participate in at least one.

Teams that did well in the first round moved on to round 2, which will be conducted in February. Of the four local finalists, only Oasis didn’t make round 2.

The top teams from each brigade and division will advance to the Army JROTC Academic Championships and the Tri-Service Academic Bowl Championships in June at George Mason University in Washington.

“We’ll see what the next level brings. I’m confident in these kids,” Lamberton said. “They work hard, they study and that’s all I can ask.”