Four Army JROTC students from Bastrop High will have the honor of traveling to the nation's capital in June to compete in the final championship event of the 2018 Army JROTC Academic Bowl Championship.
After advancing through two phases of online competition, the BHS JROTC academic team composed of Sidney Jones, Gwyneth Edwards, Kei Yabut and Cedric Winston will compete in person in Washington, D.C.
Retired Colonel Stephen Jeselink said the students have trained for this for months and are excited to have this opportunity.
"We are truly blessed to have the kids we have that have the drive and determination to train for this," he said.
The team will take part in two initial rounds of competitive online play. Bastrop High's JROTC group earned top scores out of the 1,389 teams that competed from around the world to win a place in the National Bowl competition and the all-expense paid trip to D.C. The team will be one of only 32 Army JROTC academic teams in the nation to advance to the finals.
Jeselink said it is all about teamwork and practice.
"It is a team effort, both training and testing," he said. "We have after-school practices twice a week. Students learn each other's strengths. We test on ACT-like questions in the subjects of math, science, vocab, current events and JROTC curriculum.
"The students take the tests here and I proctor them," he said. "The questions are computer generated and me and Sergeant Frederick Harrison are there to oversee as instructors."
Junior Gwyneth Edwards, team captain, said her team has worked hard all year for this opportunity.
"We meet twice a week after school to go through the academics and current events," she said. "The entire team is excited. This is a one in a million chance for us. We have been working towards this for so long."
Edwards said she plans to go to college after she graduates BHS and enter in the medical field.
"Being on this academic team has really helped me with my studies," she said.
The competition will be on the campus of the Catholic University of America June 22-26. The event is sponsored by the United States Army Cadet Command and is conducted by the College Options Foundation.
Jeselink said the competition has done more for the students than earn them a trip to D.C., but it has helped shaped them into better leaders as well.
"Edwards has helped allocate the training and practice, and other students have responsibilities that help them to learn leadership skills too," he said. "Sidney (Jones) has been selected to plan our trip. Different responsibilities allow them to be project managers too. They are learning to compete and work with others, and it gives them a chance to develop some of the best practices on leadership."