SANDY HOOK – Fifty cadets from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) NJROTC unit earned the overall first place awards in both the senior and freshman divisions in drill competitions last Saturday at North Rockland High School, New York.
The students competed against 15 schools from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, participating in a series of events designed to demonstrate precision in military close order drill, academics, and adherence to Navy uniform regulations. Judges were midshipmen from the State University of New York Maritime College, and active duty sailors and Marines.
This is the fourth drill competition in which the MAST drill team has participated this school year, winning three of them and placing second in one. Both the academics team and the Varsity Color Guard are undefeated in the four competitions. The drill team is led by Cadet Lt. Junior Grade Adam Abate of Millstone and Cadet Senior Chief Petty Officer Sam Kodama of Shrewsbury.
Commander Tracie Smith-Yeoman, retired from the US Navy, the senior Naval Science instructor at MAST said about her students: “To win this drill meet, on top of the others in which we did so well this year, is really amazing when you consider that we do not have a gymnasium at MAST. The cadets either have to practice in the very limited space of a classroom, in our small cafeteria, or outside, even in the cold temperatures we have experienced this year. That really puts us at a disadvantage, compared to other schools that sometimes have two gyms and plenty of space to practice. And while all students in the northeast experience the low temperatures, being so close to the ocean, it’s been a particularly cold winter out on Sandy Hook!”
Smith-Yeoman continued, “But best of all is winning the academics portion. That’s why these students are here at MAST – to get the best education they can to prepare them for college and beyond.”
The Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training program is conducted at accredited secondary schools throughout the nation, and taught by instructors who are retired Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel. The NJROTC accredited curriculum emphasizes citizenship and leadership development, as well as maritime heritage, the significance of sea power, and naval topics such as the fundamentals of naval operations, seamanship, navigation and meteorology.
The award-winning MAST NJROTC cadets will be in the Asbury Park St. Patrick’s Day parade Sunday and the Highlands parade on March 21.
— By Muriel J. Smith
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