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Precision is the goal at the Junior ROTC competition

Eight high schools compete

Jacob Marshall (left) and Hayden Grimmett, who are juniors at Curtis High School, compete in the Junior ROTC competition. Photo credit: Gail Wood

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It was obvious they had done their homework.

Their precision as they marched across the gym floor, their synchronized movements as they twirled their rifles or turned directions, was exact. Perfect.

About 300 students from eight local high schools competed at the Northwest Junior ROTC drill and rifle conception in the divisional championships at Curtis Junior High School last Saturday.

"What these kids do is practice, practice and practice," said Michael Kindred, a retired chief warrant officer who works with Junior ROTC at Curtis High School. "They work very, very hard."

It showed.

Physical fitness tests were part of the competition. Photo credit: Gail Wood

Hayden Grimmett and Jacob Marshall, both juniors at Curtis High School, competed in armed dual competition, which is a mix of marching and movements with their rifle. They practice daily, sometimes as long as an hour.

"I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't joined ROTC," Grimmett said. "It teaches you to be responsible not only for your actions, but for those around you. It teaches you accountability and integrity."

Grimmett, whose father was an officer in communications in the Army for eight years, is glad he joined Junior ROTC when he was a freshman.

"It was a time in my life when I needed a lot more discipline," Grimmett said. "Colonel pulled me into his office one day and asked me if I wanted to join, and I said ‘sure why not.'"

Since joining ROTC, Grimmett's grades improved from low Bs to As. After graduating, he wants to major in electrical engineering in college, possibly at the Naval Academy.

Marshall, whose brother is stationed on the U.S. Pueblo, joined ROTC as a freshman, following the advice of his brother.

"He had a great experience in ROTC," Marshall said. "He loved ROTC. ROTC teaches you that achievement isn't given - it's earned. You have to earn your way to success. You can't just wait until it's given to you."

Saturday was a culmination of months of competition. Curtis won five of the 13 events. Here are the winners, the cumulative top scorers for each event: Color Guard No. 1, Curtis 31; Color Guard No. 2, Curtis 27; Strength Team, Curtis 27; Armed Drill, Curtis 33; Unarmed Drill, Clover Park 31; Armed Duals, South Kitsap 29; Armed Singles, Wilson 25; Unarmed Command 33; Individual Strength, Smith, Lakes, 20; Iron Man, James, Lakes 23; Unarmed Dual, Lakes, Curtis 27; Academic, South Kitsap 29. The top three advance to regionals.

Pressure is part of the competition.

"When they get that pressure, that stress level, that's another thing they learn how to handle very early on," said David Smith, retired lieutenant colonel and ROTC coordinator at Curtis. "Can I handle it. Tears will come."

That's because it means something to them.

"This is very, very important to them," Smith said. "They practice a long time."

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