Every year, high school drill teams from all around the United States compete at nationals, which takes place at Daytona Beach, Florida, usually in early May. Drill teams consist of four high school JROTC, or Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, cadets (usually the four most outstanding cadets), who practice and perform a series of movements that are given to them by the judges prior to the competition.
At Crescenta Valley High School, the 2017 nationals drill team members are seniors Grace Kim and Frederick Stepanian, and juniors Daniel Kim and Daniel Cho. “Nationals is something that the entire corps knows about, and even stresses about,” said Cho, citing the importance of it. “[The team] worked so hard all year long to prepare for it.” Stepanian, who is the Drill and Ceremonies commander, and Daniel Kim, who is the Color Guard commander, had to find a balance between taking charge of the 40-50 cadets in their class and preparing for nationals. “We stayed after school at least two days out of the week to practice,” commented Cho. “It was really fun and really tiring at the same time.”
This year, over 40 teams competed, and CVHS’ team placed 30th . “It was so intense,” recalled Cho. “Every team was so amazing. You could see that all the other teams put in just as much effort into the competition as we did.” This was not Cho’s first time competing at nationals. He stated, “I always learn something new from these competition. Last year, I learned the importance of teamwork. This year, I learned the importance of patience.” He continued, “I wish we won, of course, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. We gave it our best effort, and next year, we’ll try even harder to improve.”
For Grace Kim and Stepanian, this year was their last competing as Crescenta Valley’s JROTC cadets. “I have been doing drill since I was a freshman and competing since I was sophomore so I am definitely going to miss both sincerely when I graduate,” said Stepanian. Although they did not place this year, the corps has not lost hope. “I can’t say that we’ll definitely win next year or even the next,” said Cho, “But we will definitely keep pushing ourselves and try.”