Marine Corps Base Quantico -- The Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (MCJROTC) at Quantico Middle/High School (QMHS) is starting the 2016 school year with two significant awards under its belt.
For the 11th consecutive year, the unit was one of ten in a 53-school region stretching from Virginia to New Hampshire to receive the Naval Honor School Award, which is presented annually by Headquarters Marine Corps to the most outstanding MCJROTC units. The students must demonstrate outstanding achievement in academics, scholarships awarded, school involvement, community service, extracurricular activities, unit administration, drill team competitions, color guard events, and marksmanship training and competitions.
“This is an outstanding accomplishment for the cadets,” said Paul Roy, retired Marine lieutenant colonel and senior MCJROTC instructor at the school. “It’s determined by what they do as a body.”
In addition, one of the QMHS cadets received the prestigious Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement, which rewards cadets who demonstrate excellence in scholastic and civic affairs. The QMHS cadet who won was recognized as the best out of nominees from each school in the region.
“With an estimated 150 cadets in ROTC per school, that’s out of several thousand cadets,” Roy said.
There are 78 students in the MCJROTC at QMHS, representing almost half of the school’s population.
“Our program is very stringent, very demanding,” Roy said. “It’s not just about academics, drill and community service, it’s also about building character. It is a ‘Leadership Education’ program.”
During the 2015-16 school year, QMHS cadets participated in a total of 26 school activities and clubs ranging from Chinese and Rocket club to varsity sports. They were involved in 12 student government organizations and completed a total of 3,490 community service hours assisting 24 organizations.
They received 85 academic awards and received 25 scholarships for a total of $165,400. They attended or sponsored 33 public affairs events, such as sending color guards and sword details to QMHS football games and graduation, the Marine Corps Birthday ceremony, the base Christmas tree lighting, the Marine Corps Marathon and the Historic Half, and other events.
Fifteen cadets were members of the National Honor Society and four were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.
“What our cadets have accomplished over the years is really a feat by itself,” Roy said. “I’m not sure there’s another MCJROTC program that’s won this award for 11 straight years.”
Roy nominated one of the QMHS cadets for the Legion of Valor (LOV). He said this is only the second time in his career that he has nominated a student for the award. This award is considered the highest individual award bestowed a MCJROTC cadet. Nominated cadets must have demonstrated academic leadership, demonstrated qualities of leadership in scholastic activities, student organizations, community activities and interscholastic athletic participation.
The winner, Paul, is a senior who has been at the school since 8th grade. His father was a Marine for 30 years and recently retired as a brigadier general.
“Paul has yet to receive anything less than an A in his high school career,” Roy said.
The nomination package for the LOV includes a list of the cadet’s achievements, his or her high school transcript, and three letters of recommendation. The list of Paul’s achievements is two full pages long: a 4.125 GPA; a score of 1400 on his SATs; top honors in almost every academic subject; awards for MCJROTC physical achievement, athletic participation, drill team, civic service, and more; volunteer work with all Marine Corps Marathon events, the EFMP Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, and Wreaths Across America; and varsity baseball and football.
“[The cadet] is a composed young man who is mature beyond his years,” Roy wrote in the nomination letter. “He has his priorities properly arranged; family, school, and social life in that order. He is extremely conscientious… [He] possesses outstanding leadership qualities. He seeks additional responsibility whenever the opportunity presents itself.”
“I was in disbelief at first,” Paul said about winning the award. “But once the news settled in, I got pretty excited. Not many people wear that ribbon, just one a year, so I’m pretty happy.”
He said he stays motivated to achieve everything he does by focusing on the positive of each thing.
“Maybe I don’t want to go to a meeting at the moment, but maybe that meeting is about organizing a blood drive, so I just focus on the people that I’m going to help,” he explained.
He is applying for scholarships and hopes to attend the Naval Academy, Virginia Military Institute, or the University of Notre Dame next year. He would like to be an officer in the Marine Corps, either in Force Reconnaissance or as an infantry platoon commander.
“I grew up as a Marine kid,” Paul said. “I’ve always known Marines are the best, and I want to be part of the best. I’ve seen what they’re capable of and it’s impressive.”