On the sunny, warm weekend of May 4th through 6th, 27 members of PGHS’s drill team, part of the JROTC program, attended the National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. The drill team competed against other highly qualified drill teams from all over the United States.
Ayla Goodwyn, a senior, led the drill team at the competition. She is already the battalion commander of JROTC, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she stepped in to the role of drill team commander.
“A lot of situations happen during the year,” Goodwyn said. “I just stepped up to help [by] being drill team commander.”
Goodwyn had to prepare not only herself, but the whole drill team as well.
“I had to mentally prepare – to make sure I was in the right mindset, [and] to make sure my subordinates were also in the right mindset. I also had to train just as hard as my subordinates to make sure that they knew that I knew what I was doing as well,” Goodwyn said.
“To prepare mentally, I think the training part – the physical part – wasn’t as bad as mentally [training],” Goodwyn said. “We all had to take a breather from everything and get in our right mind[set] before the competition, so we would know that it would be a good competition- [that] we would come out okay.”
While at the national competition in Daytona Beach, the drill team competed in several events, including the armed and unarmed inspection and the armed and unarmed color guard. The drill team, whose motto is “No sweat,” competed in 10 events total, and placed in every event the group competed against. Several students won individual awards as well.
Sergeant First Class Ricky Johnson attended the competition, supervising the drill team. Johnson was very impressed with the team’s performance.
“The team did an outstanding job,” Johnson said. “Our cadets here, and our students here, are top-notch students… I will be proud to take them back next year, and the next year, and the next year.”
The drill team spent most of their time in Florida competing, but they got to relax, too. The team spent time on Daytona Beach, bonding and taking group photos.
Todd Shippy, junior, learned a lot from the trip.
“[I learned that] that we can all come together and work as a team and meet our goals,” Shippy added.
Goodwyn also spoke about the competition at the school board meeting on Monday, May 8th.
“This weekend, as my team and I walked through the halls of the hotel we stayed in after a fulfilling day of competition, I spotted cursive handwriting on the wall that said, ‘We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are,’ by Max DePree,” Goodwyn said. “This quote lingered in my thoughts that night, and into Saturday morning before we left. That morning, we packed up all of our bags and walked outside behind the hotel onto the beach to take team pictures to remember our last moments of this weekend. As we walked through the hotel and onto the beach, we passed the quote again. After the experience of going up some of the most elite schools across the country, I came to a realization: we were one of those schools. It took one long moment to sink in, but it did.
“Not every JROTC school can experience the discipline and precision that all of us were able to experience,” Goodwyn said. “Each moment spent there was a lesson and was a breathtaking moment that can’t be taken away and a memory that can’t be forgotten.”