UNION, NJ - The Union High School Army JROTC Drill Team concluded the 2018-2019 Drill Season by winning the North Jersey League Drill Championship at Franklin High School.

Union’s nationally acclaimed drill team won first place on Saturday in each of the ten (10) drill categories.  The categories included: Armed and Unarmed Color Guard; Armed and Unarmed Inspection; Armed and Unarmed Regulation; Armed and Unarmed Exhibition; and Armed and Unarmed Overall.   

Having won the South Jersey League Drill Championship last December, the Union High School Fighting Farmer Battalion Drill Team won the New Jersey Drill Championship in both Armed and Unarmed categories for the twentieth consecutive year.

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“I feel proud of the team,” said Sophomore Cadet Michelle Tan.  “We worked really hard and that hard work paid off in the end.”

“This collective achievement would not have been possible without the leadership and commitment displayed by the cadet leadership,” said Union High School Senior Army Instructor Colonel Walter L. Alvarado (retired).

The JROTC leadership includes Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Adnan Oudeh (Battalion Commander and Armed Inspection Commander), Cadet Command Sergeant Major (Armed Exhibition Commander), Cadet Captain Izabella Ksiazek (Overall Unarmed and Color Guard Commander); Cadet Captain Airon Tuazon (Armed Color Guard Commander); Cadet Captain Isaiah Alviola (Armed Regulation Commander); Staff Sergeant Tiana Gonzalez (Unarmed Exhibition Commander); Cadet Staff Sergeant Michelle Tan (Unarmed Regulation Commander); and Staff Sergeant Jade Holmes (Unarmed Inspection Commander). 

Senior Cadet Adnan Oudeh said, “as the Battalion Commander, the focus is on preparation.  Teamwork was the key ingredient.  You have to rely on your teammates.” 

“It feels really good,” said Junior Cadet Izabella Ksiazek.  “It makes me feel proud we all worked hard and achieved our goal.  We dedicated so much time to each other during the season especially at practice.”

Drill team members practiced from 6:00 – 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. daily.  First Sergeant (Retired) Gerald Schemel, the team’s head coach, attributes the success to the countless hours devoted to the “many hours of practice and focus on the team goal of remaining the best JROTC Program in New Jersey and one of the best in the nation.”

The JROTC Drill Team graduates three seniors (Adnan Oudeh, Benjamin Brett and Jordan Adams) this year, said Alvarado.  With the experienced returning members, the drill team has national championship aspirations as it plans on competing at the Army National Drill Championship in April 2020.   

The Union High School Army JROTC Battalion is recognized by the US Army as an elite program and given the designation as an Honor Unit with Distinction (HUD).