CLICK HERE for photo gallery of the Junior ROTC

HUNTERSVILLE – Hopewell High School’s Junior ROTC has proven itself a force to be reckoned with in the classroom and on the field.

Not only does the group boast a 100 percent graduation rate and impressive grade point averages, they also hope to claim the top prize this year at the CMS Superintendent’s Cup competition at Bojangles Coliseum on April 18.

The CMS Superintendent’s Cup recognizes Mecklenburg County’s top high school ROTC programs, based on how each school finishes in several events throughout the school year.

Hopewell’s JROTC has been named the Superintendent’s Cup Champion for five of the last six years. This year’s group also won first place overall at the Furman Raider Meet and the Lee County Tri-Meet.

The JROTC is comprised of three groups: the raider team, drill team, and rifle team.

The raider team is comparable to an Iron Man type competition, in which the cadets compete in several different events that test their physical endurance, teamwork, and leadership skills.

The drill team does precision movements and marching with and without a rifle or sabre.

The rifle team competition tests cadets’ shooting skills at targets from three different positions.

The competitions aren’t all physical contests as cadets participate head-to-head in academic competitions similar to a quiz bowl.

First Sgt. Daniel Ferriero, along with Col. Mike Puckett and CSM Cleveland Penn, are the instructors of Hopwell’s JROTC program. Ferriero said their instruction goes far beyond preparing the cadets for JROTC events.

“Our instructors are involved in all the cadet classes and check with the other teachers to ensure students are doing well in all classes,” he said. “Our students are expected to act accordingly in school and to be motivated, self-disciplined, and support the mission of the JROTC program, and Hopewell High School.”

Students in the program have a 100 percent graduation rate at Hopewell since the program began nine years ago. Hopewell’s JROTC students also have higher than average GPA scores. Several students have attended major universities, including N.C. State, UNC, UNC Charlotte, Furman, East Carolina University, Appalachian State, West Point and the Naval Academy.

Others are currently serving in all branches of the military, both enlisted and as officers, many of which have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The JROTC curriculum teaches our students life skills, such as, physical wellness, drug and alcohol prevention, prevention of sexual harassment, diet and nutrition, values, leadership and financial planning,” Ferriero said.

On April 20, Hopewell will host its own JROTC competition. The Hopewell Raider Meet, started by Ferriero in 2005, will host 13-15 school’s teams in CMS.

Obstacles will include a 25-foot rock wall climb and urban orienteering, an event where the teams have a map of the campus and must find 10 points marked on the map and record them within 30 minutes to score points.

There will also be an Iron man and Iron woman award for the male and female raider that scores the highest on the physical fitness test.

Visit www.HuntersvilleHerald.com to see more pictures of Hopewell’s JROTC in action and for updates on the CMS Superintendent Cup.