News: Arizona Guard soldiers grab their clipboards, judge for cadets' competition
Story by Sgt. Lauren Twigg
PHOENIX - Hundreds of crisply-uniformed young adults march in small formations throughout the campus and parking lot. The voices of the cadet leaders can be heard pealing sharp commands to their squads.
This annual event hosts all public high schools throughout the state of Arizona, inviting Junior ROTC cadets to compete for the state drill and ceremony champion title. However, they need judges in order to compete – but not just anyone can judge something that requires a trained eye.
Nearly 30 soldiers from the Arizona Army National Guard volunteered to be judges for the competition at Alhambra High School in Phoenix April 13.
The soldiers observed the young cadets on their skill, discipline and accuracy in more than 10 categories in drill and ceremony.
“I did this once before and wanted to get a chance to do it again,” said Staff Sgt. Kristin Thompson, who was the noncommissioned officer in charge of coordinating the group of soldiers from the AZNG. “It was nice to see how many schools still support JROTC, and all the kids who are involved in the military-centric program.”
Thompson is also an Alhambra H.S. alumnus and felt compelled to participate and help support young adults who potentially seek a military career.
“It was neat coming back to my alma mater and being the NCOIC (for this group), I was able to roam a little more and see everything,” Thompson said. “The kids are so motivated with what they are doing.”
For the past few years, the Guard has been involved in helping out as volunteers with the event in an effort to maintain community involvement.
“The AZNG soldiers are always ready to support us when we ask,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Jackson MacDonald, officer in charge of hosting the event, and command instructor for the JROTC at Alhambra H.S. “The soldiers show up and have a good time. They are enthusiastic, professional, and set a good example for the high school cadets.”
The soldiers did not just come out to judge however, as Thompson explained the soldiers were there to mentor and set an example for the students looking at a future in the military.
“I like interacting with the students and getting a chance to see how they progress through the years,” Thompson said. “Just coming back a second time I’ve been able to see where the kids have already developed with their military, career, and education goals.”
Our community is fortunate to have a Guard that provides support when asked, MacDonald said.
“We could not have been nearly as successful without the National Guard,” MacDonald said.