NJROTC program at Southeast Guilford High School in Guilford County named 3rd best program in nation

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The NJROTC program at Southeast Guilford High School in Guilford County has always been strong.

For the last 11 years, it’s won the Navy Distinguished Unit with academic honors award. But this year, the cadets did something they’ve never done before. They were named the third best program in the nation. 

First Sergeant Thomas Hilliard says it took the entire school working together to earn this type of recognition.

“Especially when you are competing against all these other schools, you know, they have a student body of 2,500 students,” said Hilliard. “They have three or four instructors. They have 400 cadets. And at Southeast, we’re still doing just as much and probably on a better level than they are just because of the dedication and hard work of the cadets.”      

The Navy League evaluators grade the NJROTC on just about everything from how many cadets are in the program compared to the student population, to the academics of the cadets to community service and how the cadets do in team competitions.

You name it, Southeast excels at it. But first sergeant says what set them apart this year was how they embraced other Guilford County NJROTC programs and helped them by sharing their techniques and talents.

“The things that worked well at Southeast, we tried to implement them at all the other programs,” Hilliard said. “So we had a really good freshman orientation here for the past few years. And instead of just doing it at southeast at the beginning of last school year, we actually took that program to Ragsdale and we had all of the ROTCs bring their freshman in and we did a full week-long freshman orientation there. Which it really helped everybody.”

They started the Superintendent’s Cup because the cadets love to compete.

As for the coronavirus, the First Sergeant is staying positive about how his kids are handling it.

He says they have built a virtual classroom that offers a lot in the field of Naval Science. And he is urging his cadets to stay positive,

“Hopefully we will be back in the classroom soon enough and we can get the face to face time with them, but I think with the tools that Guilford County Schools has given us we can still have a really good program here and again really get to the end state which is for when these students graduate high school to have a plan.”

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