ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — In his first year as senior instructor with the Robertsdale High School Naval Junior ROTC Commander Frank Starr says the program has reached or exceeded all of his goals.
“My main goal from the beginning has been to continue and to build on the success of this program,” he said. “Col. (Scott) Meehan (the school’s previous senior instructor), Petty Officer (Edward) Theodoro and those who started this program before them have built a great program and my goal is simply to keep working to make it better.”
It was a year of firsts for the program, with the addition of 35 students from Elberta High School, bringing the total number of cadets to over 170, which meant that RHS was able to hire a third instructor Petty Officer Erin Charles Pate. Both Starr and Pate joined the program in July 2018.
Every year on April 1, Jr. ROTC programs throughout the country submit an evaluation and start the next day accumulating points for the next year’s evaluation.
Points are accumulated by reaching various goals within the ROTC program, Starr said, such as school and community service, college and military base visits and participation in various competitions.
“This program has always maxed out on community service,” Starr said. “Where I thought we could improve was in the area of competitions. There are several competitions where I felt we could compete, and I think we did very well.”
A team from RHS participated in the National Academic Exam, also known as “Brain Brawl” finishing 15th in Area 8, which includes 48 schools and over 5,000 cadets from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.
For the first time, teams from RHS participated in the District Orienteering Championships, finishing sixth in Area 8 and qualifying to participate in the National Championship in California, where they finished tied for 12th.
The school also competed in and hosted air rifle competitions, falling just short of qualifying for the National Competition by finishing ninth in Area 8.
The program’s success in those areas, along with continued success in others, translated to continued success when it came time for the evaluation results to be released, Starr said.
This year, the program finished eighth out of the 48 schools in Area 8, finishing in the top 10 for the last three years. This is the highest a program from RHS has ever been ranked, Starr said. It is also the first time the program has finished with over 200 points, finishing with a total of 221.
Starr’s goal for next year is simple.
“I want to finish seventh and accumulate more points this year than we did last year,” he said. “We’re already on our way. Just in the last month, we’ve already accumulated over 70 points. It will slow down some, but I don’t see that we will have any problem reaching our goal.”