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WERHOUSE growing, leaving mark in competitions. Don Abernathy for the Headliner News T he trophies are everywhere. They span across and underneath a large table, spilling onto the fl oor where there are some plaques leaning against the wall. There are over 30 awards. And those are just from the 2015-16 school year. The Nixa JROTC program has a trophy case already, in the high school foyer next to the library, and some of this past year’s awards are housed there, too. But it’s full. To say the program needs another trophy case to house its latest collection of hardware is an understatement. “This is our 20th year of existence and the growth here has just been phenomenal,” said Nixa JROTC instructor and retired Army Lt. Col. Henry Anton. “I have to give credit to the quality of the district and the hard work put in by the students. We’re considered a powerhouse now.” Perhaps the one accomplishment Anton’s cadets were most proud of last year was their performance at the U.S. Army JROTC National Drill Championships April 9 in Louisville, Kentucky. There are over 1,700 Army JROTC programs in the country, but only 70 are invited to the competition. To get invited to nationals, Nixa JROTC had to compete in fi ve drill competitions: Branson, Ozark, Sedalia Smith-Cotton, Waynesville and Forsyth. Anton submitted Nixa’s drill results to brigade and was selected. “Those 70 schools are divided into two categories, regulation normal drill and fancy drill,” Anton said. “We were in the regulation category and we took 21st in the nation. (Cadet Maj.) Ashton Eckerson’s team took 15th in the nation in the regulation drill platoon category. It was our fi rst time at nationals and to take 21st place and 15th place out of 1,734 Army JROTC programs is pretty doggone good. We were pretty proud of that and we’re looking forward to going back again next year.” Eckerson, who will attend Texas A&M in the fall to study nuclear engineering on a fouryear full-ride Navy scholarship, was also a big part of the program’s strong performance in the nationwide Cyber Patriot competition. It’s a cyber defense program that started six years ago and includes all branches of the military. This year, Nixa JROTC fi nished fi rst in state, was the fourth-best Army team in the nation and fi nished in the top 20 nationally out of over 3,000 programs. The team narrowly missed the Cyber Patriot Nationals because Continued on Page 22 FALL 2016 THE NEST NIXA PUBLIC SCHOOLS MAGAZINE 21


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