The Vista Ridge Lone Star Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) was named the number one NJROTC in Navy Area 10 for the 2022-23 school year, a tremendous honor for the program.
The Leander ISD Lone Star Company had a year of many firsts: The unit won a national championship title (Navy JLAB Champions), competed in Brain Brawl, and qualified for the Area 10 State Drill Championship, the CyberPatriot National Finals and Navy National. It was also the the first time that a cadet won the Joseph C. Gilliam Award and that 100% of graduating seniors who were seeking a ROTC scholarship received one.
Superintendent Bruce Gearing said that the cadets provide “critical leadership to their schools’ classrooms and clubs”.
The Lone Star Company
Vista Ridge High School NJROTC’s program is in its 14th year in LISD. The program has 116 cadets coming from all six of the district’s high schools and one middle school. The 2022-23 year for the Lone Star Company has been a year filled with both first places and first times, a year of seemingly impossible growth. Starting with a national championship title, the momentum was never lost as the Lone Star Company continued to set new records.
Over the summer of 2022, the Lone Star Company’s academic team advanced to the national JROTC Academic Bowl Competition. Competing against the best teams in the nation in a quiz-bowl format, they defeated the reigning champions, Troy High School, to become the Navy National Champions. They went on to compete against the very best of the Air Force, Army and Marines, where they placed second to the Air Force in a tightly contested game.
Continuing this winning trend, the academic team qualified early in the season for the Area 10 State Championship, where they had five of the 10 highest individual scores of all cadets who took the academic test. They also carved out time to compete in the Brain Brawl competition for the first time, where they placed amongst the top five teams in Area 10.
Outside of competition, the cadets continue to uphold the program’s high standards, with 55% of cadets on their schools’ honor roll or taking advanced classes. As a result, the 2022-23 school year is the 11th consecutive year the Lone Star Company has earned their status as a Distinguished Unit with Academic Honors.
Finally, Cadet LTJG Lindauer received Area 10’s Joseph C. Gilliam Award for outstanding academic achievement and for his paper on the influence of AI and robotics on human society.
In an effort to force themselves to be better and raise the stakes, the Lone Star Company’s CyberPatriot team choose to compete in the competition’s Open Division, a division comprised of 2,890 teams including some of the best charter, magnet, public and other schools in the nation, rather than the 371 teams they’d compete against in the the All Service Division.
Despite the increased challenge, the team not only successfully guarded their title of first in state, but also placed high enough to be one of the 12 teams from the 2,890 Open Division teams to advance to the National Finals in Bethesda, Maryland, for the first time in Lone Star Company history.
While in Bethesda, the team proudly wore their Navy uniforms to compete against other schools without any JROTC affiliation. This is believed to be the first time a JROTC team has accomplished this since the introduction of a separate Open Division in 2010. The team finished in the top ten out of the 2,890 peer teams in their bracket.
Once the season ended, the team pivoted to using their knowledge to benefit their community by expanding the CyberPatriot program to all students from LISD high schools with the goal of helping the school field non-JROTC teams next academic year.
Academic, Athletic and Drill Team Achievement
For the first time in the Lone Star Company’s 14-year history, they advanced to the Area 10 State Academic, Athletic and Drill Competition. Because of the well rounded drill portfolio and admirable performance of Armed, Color Guard and Unarmed Drill Teams, they were selected as one of two units from Area 10 to advance to the NJROTC National Academic, Athletic and Drill Competition, also known as Navy JROTC Nationals.
It was a significant accomplishment for the cadets to go from having never been to the area drill championship to attending Navy Nationals in just a single year.
The marksmanship team qualified for the Area 10 marksmanship championship. Cadet Ensign Sedinam Azimeti, the team’s captain, was the top marksman at the Area 10 marksmanship championship and earned the right to represent the Lone Star Company and Area 10 at the Navy National JROTC Air Rifle Competition in Sandy, Utah.
Area Manager’s Inspection
This year, the Lone Star Company hosted Commander Michael Files, the former Commanding Officer of Navy Talent Acquisition Group San Antonio and Associate Professor of Naval Science at the University of Texas to conduct their annual Area Manager’s Inspection.
Despite unseasonable weather and last minute changes, the cadets adapted well and performed exceptionally, leaving CDR Files thoroughly impressed. CDR Files awarded perfect scores in all categories and left positively outstanding feedback in his report to the Area Manager. They also called special attention to the way all cadets carried themselves.
In February, the Lone Star Company had the distinct privilege of having Captain Matthew Rutheford, Commanding Officer of Naval ROTC at the University of Texas, as a guest speaker at their annual Military Ball. Additionally, the Lone Star Company hosted representatives from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, National Guard, Navy and Marine Corps so that the cadets could be more informed about potential futures with the armed forces. They have also hosted representatives from the ROTC units at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University and traveled to visit the ROTC unit at Texas A&M Corpus Christi to learn about educational scholarships and other opportunities. The competition teams also seek and receive mentorship from industry professionals.
The CyberPatriot team in particular received support from multiple industry professionals and local companies in the field of cybersecurity.
In the midst of their success, the Lone Star Company still made time to serve their community. At the six Leander ISD campuses they attend, they have provided support for a number of events, from school board meetings and science fairs to graduation ceremonies. Whenever the campus administration is looking for someone to help execute an event, the Lone Star Company is who they think of. The unit has accumulated over 680 volunteer hours supporting the schools in the district.
Outside of their schools, they have spent time serving the citizens local to them by working with VA clinics, food banks, VFW fundraisers, public library events and retirement homes. They have also been called upon by the Navy to provide support for a Chief Petty Officers’ Pinning Ceremony.
They also make sure to support our environment with numerous cleanup projects both around Vista Ridge and a local Veterans’ Memorial Park. In total they gave over 3,313 hours in support of their community.
This spirit of community service is not only institutional, but close to the cadets themselves. Every spring, the cadets choose a charity to be the benefactor of an annual Cadets’ Choice Fundraiser. This year the Austin-based Hungry Souls was selected as the cadets were driven by their goal of helping food insecure students in their own communities. Through their efforts, they raised over $600 to provide meals to struggling families.
Return to the JROTC Community
The Lone Star Company not only enjoys participating in many competitions hosted by other units, but they also host competitions for other units, namely the annual LoneStar Round Up. Composed of four main categories (academics, marksmanship, orienteering, and PT) the Lone Star Round Up is a competition looked forward to by all JROTC units in the Central Texas region.
This year we hosted 10 different schools with representation from Marine Corps and Navy JROTC programs. Of particular acclaim was the electronic marksmanship range and the academics exam, with some schools registering three separate teams just so more cadets could experience it. Part of the draw of the exam is its unique format inspired by their JLAB experience. Cadets take a single test together as a team of 5; this not only allows for harder and more interesting questions to be asked, but for cadets to approach an academic challenge in a team environment, something not common in JROTC.
Lone Star in the News
Because of their outstanding performance, they have been covered by multiple local media outlets, bringing a positive light to both the Lone Star Company and the Navy JROTC program. Hill Country News wrote an article about the CyberPatriot team advancing to the national finals and Four Points News wrote about the CyberPatriot Team’s top 10 finish.
The Lone Star Company not only learns about military history in the classroom but takes every opportunity to explore history first hand. The first visit this year was to the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, Texas. They also took a trip to spend time on the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas. In a follow on trip, they visited the USS Alabama in Mobile, Alabama and the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. A few cadets also had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., where they received a private tour of the U.S.Capital Complex and visited all the monuments on the national mall, while experiencing the cherry blossoms in full bloom and the National Museum of the United States Navy in the Navy Yards.
Lone Star is Prepared for the Future
A primary goal of the Lone Star Company and NJROTC program is to ensure that cadets are prepared for the future. Of the 19 graduating seniors, five submitted for ROTC scholarships (each worth about $250,000) to their colleges of choice. All five of those seniors were offered them.
Another five Lone Star cadets have enlisted in the United States Navy or Marine Corps. The remaining nine seniors all have plans to attend college or a trade school. All 19 are proud to have been a part of the Lone Star Company.