ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Cadets from Robertsdale and Elberta high schools were put through their paces on Thursday, Sept. 5 with Commander Merlin Ladner, NJROTC Area 8 manager, as part of the annual “Pass and Review” at Robertsdale High School.
“I conduct inspections at all 50 schools in Area 8 every two years,” Ladner said. “Then every other year, an inspection is conducted by an off-site inspector. Bottom line is that these cadets are inspected every year.”
Inspection for the 2018-19 school year was conducted Feb. 27 by Commander Chad Smith, commanding officer, and personnel from the Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station at NAS Pensacola.
“This year Robertsdale volunteered to be the first unit to be inspected,” Ladner said, “which I think speaks volumes about the confidence of this program. I believe they are to be held up as an example of what is possible, not only for our area, but for the future of our nation.”
Cadets are reviewed on overall general appearance, which includes personal hygiene and appearance of uniform.
“My purpose today is three-fold,” Ladner said. “First, I’m here to inspect the cadets, second to inspect the instructors to make sure they are doing what they need to be doing for these cadets, and finally to talk with the commanders and school officials to make sure we are doing what we need to be doing to ensure the success of this program.”
Thursday’s inspection included all the unit’s 191 cadets, including 41 from Elberta High School, conducted in the gymnasium at Robertsdale High School. Cadets were split into six platoons and inspected in three groups, two platoons at a time.
The inspection was followed by a “Pass and Review,” conducted on the band practice field on the infield area of the track at Robertsdale High School, which included cadets’ family, city officials, including Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy and Loxley Mayor Richard Teal, and school officials, including Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler, RHS Principal Joe Sharp and EHS Principal Branton Bailey, along with RHS NJROTC senior Naval instructor Lt. Commander Frank Starr, and instructors Petty Officer Edward Theodoro and Petty Officer Erin Pate.
“We want to thank everyone for their support of (Thursday’s) inspection,” Starr said in an email sent out Friday to school officials. “This past year the unit finished ranked the highest in school history (as far we can tell) and (Thursday’s) inspection will go a long way in setting the tone for this year’s expectations of our cadets and for the unit’s standing amongst our peers.
“As is always the case, any success enjoyed by anyone on campus is enjoyed by all and is a tribute to many who helped make it come to pass. Thanks for your encouragement of all students on campus and our cadets in particular. We, instructors and cadets, could not do what we do without your support.”
Twenty-one cadets were presented medals for Best Uniform Inspection, while the Second Platoon was honored for the Most Outstanding Inspection.
Among the RHS ROTC’s accomplishments is that they finished the 2018-19 school year ranked eighth overall among Area 8’s 49 member schools, which includes over 5,000 cadets from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to say how proud I am of this group of students,” Tyler said, “who have set and are already achieving their goals. They are a testament to their communities and a prime example of what is being accomplished here in Central Baldwin County.”