Congratulations to NJROTC

posted Mar 27, 2015, 10:53 AM by Kadion Phillips

Oxford High Naval Junior ROTC Cadets Earn 10th Drill Championship in 11 Years

 On January 31st, Oxford High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) Unit cadets participated in the final seasonal meet in the very competitive Southern New England Drill League (SNEDL).  Throughout the season, league rules specify that member schools must participate in all four league meets of the season to maintain eligibility for final end of year awards.  At each meet, schools placing first through third in each event are awarded 10, 5 and 3 points respectively, which accumulate for participants throughout the season not only for event but also divisional titles.  The final league meet of the 2014-2015 season and concurrent League End of Season Awards Ceremony were hosted by the Air Force JROTC Unit at Central High School in Springfield for all eight league schools present.  Each school’s teams came with large contingents of parents, family members and friends creating a packed gymnasium cheering each school’s teams on through thirteen major events.  Despite a rebuilding year with many new freshmen and sophomore players, few could have predicted how well things would turn out for Oxford’s Pirate Cadets as they   confidently entered the standard eight events in the Armed and Unarmed Divisions at the final meet.
Several seasoned veterans, like seniors and Team Captains John St. Germain and Amber Calcano, led a younger but confident cadre of cadets to stellar results at the final meet – earning Oxford seven trophy finishes in the eight events entered including first places in Armed and Unarmed and Color Guard Events, second place in Unarmed Exhibition, and three additional third place finishes.  These Pirates’ performance solidified final league standings.  Additionally, Amber Calcano and junior Connor Harnois earned medals in the Unarmed Individual Drill event.  Cadet Harnois earned himself a second medal in the Armed Individual Drill Event. 
Following the 4th meet regular awards ceremony, Colonel Tom Cleland, USAF (Ret), Senior Aerospace Instructor and his Cadet Commander of the Air Force Junior ROTC Unit at Central High in Springfield, began a lengthy End of Season Awards ceremony, with eight schools and over 400 hundred cadets paraded before a capacity crowd in the gymnasium.  In eight events routinely entered at regular season meets in two divisions, Oxford High Pirate cadets were awarded eight Best School of League Season honors including SNEDL champs in the Armed Inspection and Unarmed Color Guard and a tie with Central Springfield for Armed Color Guard top honors.  Second place Best School of Season were earned in Unarmed Exhibition, Unarmed Team Inspection and Armed Regulation events.  Oxford also won third place Best School of Season awards for Armed Exhibition and Unarmed Regulation events.  When the final overall divisional standings were announced, cumulative point totals from all four meets ultimately earned the intrepid Pirates a 1st place tie overall as Best School of League Season in the Unarmed Division and a third place tie overall in the Armed Division.  Both ties were with perennial powerhouse Central High School Air Force Junior ROTC of Springfield.  Each announcement was met with hugs amongst the cadets as team commanders marched forth to formally receive each of the seventeen awards to cheers from over sixty parents, relatives, friends, and former Oxford Drill Team and Color Guard alumni – all of whom traveled to Springfield to witness a superb day of tight competition and well deserved recognition.    
            Practices started last September.  Many challenges emerged through the season, including the departure of several experienced upperclassmen.  However, revamped teams with mostly rookie freshmen rose to the occasion to perform at high levels, to excel and gained confidence each week.  Underclassmen also stepped up both their performance on the drill deck and their leadership roles and responsibilities for younger peers.  The unified team effort and raised expectations bar with tougher practices allowed the Pirates to gel as a unit – and those who stuck with it witnessed the fruition of their hard work at the end of year presentations.  Cadet focused determination spanning five months of early morning practices starting at 5:30 a.m. before school start, five days a week, ultimately netted them results exceeding expectations.  Competition was tight at every meet, with differences of 1 to 2 points separating 1st from 2nd place out of a possible 200 or more points tallied from all judges.  Overall standings points were likewise close.  With the Pirates being announced Best School of League Season in the Unarmed Division, Oxford’s Drill Team and Color Guard continued a proud tradition of earning SNEDL Divisional Champs honors for the tenth time in eleven years since the league voted to initiate those awards in 2003.  
To close out the day, traditional special presentations were made to graduating veterans to recognize many years of tireless, dedicated practice, loyalty and leadership on many levels.  Seniors received a floral bouquet and gift cards from all underclassmen.  The teams thanked Oxford High alumni cadets Manjeet Gill and Jason Green who used their drill championship experiences to help train cadets and assist Drill Team Coach Master Chief David Youngsman, US Naval Reserve (Ret) in his fifth year at Oxford.  Color Guard champs likewise thanked CDR Michael C. Masley, Jr., USN (Ret) who completed his 19th season working with those teams.  Cadets clearly expressed their appreciation was passed to all parents, family members, friends and supporters who traveled to all the meets to cheer the teams on throughout the season both at the drill site and on the bus trip home.
When it counted most, Oxford’s NJROTC cadets delivered an amazing performance, capturing 17 of 18 possible trophy finishes, while continuing their legacy of bringing league championship titles to Oxford High School.  This year’s championship team members include seniors Amber Calcano, John St. Germain and Quinn Stauffer; juniors Stephen Bouchard, Will McGee, Joshua Kichar, Connor Harnois and Desiree Anderson; sophomores Kaitlyn Zindle, Amanda Calcano, Connor Pinkham, Colin Gage, Nicholas Rosebrooks, Robert Gonzalez, and Tyler Provencher; and freshmen Amanda Brassard, Tyler Bouchard, Dienna Gleason, Taylor Coonan, Zachary Westbrook, Madyson Harnois, and Riley Moen.  
The teams would like to pass their deep appreciation to the trustees of the Cecelia Smolenski-Millette Trust Fund for their continued support through special grants, and to generous local donors who wish to remain anonymous – all of whom help outfit and operate the eight teams fielded within the Oxford High Naval Junior ROTC Drill Team and Color Guard at no cost to the school.  Congratulations to all members of the Pirate Drill Team and Color Guard for another outstanding league season of achievements while representing Oxford High School.