Coronado High School’s award-winning NJROTC program is off to a good start for the 2021-22 school year. Islander Company cadets began their year at a leadership academy over the summer; then, after only a week of school, the unit hosted and won the Neptune Olympics.
Cadets from seven of the ten JROTC units in the San Diego area participated in the Summer Leadership Academy. Coronado students joined their counterparts from Ramona, Orange Glen, Point Loma, Westview, Serra and San Ysidro in the three-day camp. Students from the seven schools were divided into platoons (each platoon consisted of one or two students from each school) who worked together to complete difficult trials.
Senior Naval Science Instructors from NJROTC (SNSI) Coronado’s Capt Patrick Rabun and Orange Glen’s LtCdr. Freddie Amos agreed that quality time together for local programs was essential after a very difficult “pandemic” school year. Both SNSIs said the camp has been successful in developing teamwork and leadership skills, and this is a great opportunity to build friendships between the programs.
The annual Neptune Olympics were held on September 6 on the beach southeast of Fiddlers Cove on the Silver Strand. Eleven teams from the Southern California area participated in the event, a fun competition to build camaraderie and teamwork. The teams competed in kayaks, surfboards, paddleboards, group swims, sandcastle building and cadet favorite – Zodiac Hostage Rescue.
“It’s a great opportunity to bond early in the year with different schools and also within teams. Unlike the ultra-competitive exercise competitions that take place 4-5 times a year, the Neptune Olympics are fun! Said Captain Rabun.
Rabun, along with Senior Chief Tom Hellwig, NSI, teach the “Naval Science” course at CHS. They take care of official paperwork and classroom work but, “in reality, our students who serve as CO and XO and others in leadership roles are in charge of the Islander Company,” Hellwig said.
The NJROTC program at CHS began in 2003 and has a history of distinction. “We are now in our 14th consecutive year as a Distinguished Unit [DU]Rabun said, adding that last year they were a DU with distinction for academic achievement.
Each year, the 20% of the best programs in each region are recognized as DU. “There are 58 schools in our ‘region’ and we compete in various activities throughout the year, some of which are remote via Zoom,” Rabun said. Prices are based on community service, drills and competitions, and academics.
“This is the first year in a long time that we’ve seen our numbers from day one. I think the 4×4 bell timing has helped us tremendously. Students are more likely to take on things that interest them than before, ”commented Rabun. “We also have some really good recruiting officers, a girl and a boy, reaching out to eighth graders and other students to tell them about the program,” Hellwig added.
In addition to their college education, training, backcountry orienteering, competitions and volunteer engagements, the busy cadets of the Islander Company can often be seen presenting the colors at the events throughout the city.