WARSAW — With sweat stinging anxious eyes and hearts racing, they rappelled off of a 60-foot wall. Then a few of them went down again or they did a free-fall rappel. No, these aren’t Soldiers, they’re high school Cadets in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps from Warsaw Community High School.
210 Cadets from 21 JROTC programs (19 Army and 2 Marine Corps) from Indiana and Ohio, went to the military base at Camp Atterbury, for the annual JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge that went from June 17-22. Of these, 11 Cadets represented WCHS’ JROTC.
Last week’s rainy conditions on nearly every day, failed to dampen the spirits of all of the Cadets.
“This is by far, the best group of students I’ve ever had the fortune of work with for these 5 days from Warsaw and as a whole,” Major Friedrich Josellis said.
Josellis and his colleague, Command Sergeant Major Jon Mitchell work with their JROTC Cadets throughout the year. Cadets earn the opportunity to attend JCLC through good grades and by working with their drill, color guard, and raider teams throughout the school year. All sports have a “season,” but JROTC has teams competing with other programs for nearly the entire school year.
Mitchell noted, “We want to challenge them at all times so that they can make personal changes to improve themselves. When they do this they not only improve themselves, but they also make our program stronger.”
Cadets are mixed up from all of the 21 high schools so that there are representatives of all of the sexes and schools in a structure that closely resembles an Army battalion. Working together, the Cadets learned about the importance of stepping outside their comfort zones and working as a team with people they may not know. The training throughout the week included land navigation, water safety, a leadership reaction course and rappelling. Cadets also rode Blackhawk helicopters that gave them a bird’s eye view of the military base and surrounding community.
At the leadership reaction course, each group selects a leader from among their team. This course puts the Cadets to the test because they have to work as a team and use their combined intelligence to figure out how to get from one side of an obstacle to the other using the available equipment at that particular station.
“There’s always at least one strong personality. But you’re only as strong as your weakest link, so you have to get everyone to work together,” WCHS JROTC Cadet Katherine Josellis said.
Cadet Josellis, who is also WCHS’ JROTC Battalion Commander, said that while her team only completed one station properly, the course was her favorite part of the entire week. She enjoyed the challenge of talking and listening to people and then taking action.
“It was fun and challenging at the same time,” she said. “Years from now I’ll remember the friends I’ve made and how we struggled together but overcame our physical and personal limitations together.”
Mitchell may have summed it up best by noting “It never gets old. Seeing all of these young individual Cadets pulling together as a team. Inner-city Cadets paired up with rural Cadets, cheering each other on, learning from each other, and succeeding together.”
The 11 Cadets that represented WCHS were Jacalyn Beeler, Cameron Charles, Rezner Davis, Ramon DeLaCruz, Aaron Hoffman, Gracee Jacobs, Katherine Josellis, Aaron McLaughlin, Kyle Miller, Joshua Sills and Eric Trzcinski.
The following Cadets were recognized for being among the “Top 10” leading Cadets in their companies: Cameron Charles, Rezner Davis and Kyle Miller.
Cadet Katherine Josellis earned “Leading Cadet” honors for her company. She also received coins from the Rappel Master and First Sergeant in recognition of additional achievements and efforts during the leadership challenge.