• Published March 7, 2022

    For the first time, two Williamson County high school Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) teams are heading to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Army JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB) National Competition.

    Four Independence High cadets, Liam Smith, Henry Mezera, Jena Farris and Olivia Livaudais, will compete against 31 other teams in the leadership competition. Four Ravenwood High cadets, Jack Mitchell, Camden Walker, Enya Bullard and Manvik Barkakati, will compete against 39 other teams in the academic competition. To get to the national level, the cadets had to advance through two levels of qualifying rounds. More than 1,500 schools enter the competition each year.

    "This is our second time going, and it's Ravenwood's third time," said IHS senior army instructor Lt. Col. Charles Fields. "Seven schools from our brigade, which covers Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, advanced, and they were all from Tennessee."

    The IHS team set a new record for their school in the leadership competition after scoring a 96. Part of their preparation included reviewing more than 4,000 possible questions.

    "They are looking forward to competing at the national level and getting the opportunity to see our nation's capital," Fields said. "What they want most is to score higher than any other team that has competed from our county, and I think they have a good chance of doing so."

    At the national level, the contest includes at least 10 rounds of competition using buzzers. Cadets may be asked ACT-style questions, questions about JROTC and questions about current events during the competition.

    "Our cadets have been studying hard to accomplish this," said RHS JROTC instructor Rusel Hays. "They are really looking forward to going to Washington, D.C."