The young audience members suddenly get quiet, turn to the front of the room and listen for what’s next.

At the front of the room stand nine uniformed cadets, formed in a straight line with their hands neatly crossed behind their backs. The Copperas Cove High School Junior ROTC cadets command attention in the meeting room.

The cadets are from different teams, but they all promote discipline, volunteerism and physical fitness.

Citizenship, leadership, character and community service are among the core tenets of the Junior ROTC, the Cove High cadets explained to Cove Junior High Career Connect students.

The students learned about the chain of command, who is in charge and how that person earned their leadership position.

The Junior ROTC cadets shared their experiences in field competitions, drill competitions, rock climbing and formal events including the annual military ball.

They also told how they develop friendships and help the community all while having fun and learning leadership skills and developing character.

Eighth-grader Jordan McGhee listened closely as the visiting cadets shared what was to come for those students who planned to join the program as upcoming freshman.

“The JROTC was great at showing us that JROTC has many different activities in the organization,” McGhee said. “They were funny and friendly throughout their stay.”

The unarmed, female drill team demonstrated various techniques and moves it performs, and members explained the significance of the uniforms they wear.

The armed drill team also performed for the Copperas Cove Junior High students and demonstrated some of the moves it executes with practice rifles.

The physical training squad briefed students on the benefits of the Cove High Junior ROTC Raider Team and how it not only helps build muscle but confidence. The squad challenged the students to a 1-minute pushup contest, one of the common exercises they work on for competitions.

Eighth-grader Chandler Gastelo accepted the challenge, pushing the cadets to their physical limits. The Cove Junior High students cheered their fellow classmate and watched as Gastelo came in just shy of first place.

“The JROTC group was fun and friendly,” Gastelo said. “They were organized throughout their presentation.”

Copperas Cove High School boasts one of the largest Junior ROTC battalions in Central Texas with more than 200 members, which is about 10 percent of the school’s student body.

The Bulldog Battalion has produced several military recruits including the U.S. Army’s first female Ranger school graduate, 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, in 2015.

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