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The Madison Record
At Bob Jones High School, the Air Force Junior ROTC or AFJROTC organization has earned the “AFJROTC Distinguished Unit Award with Merit” for 2021-2022. CMSgt. Ellis Clark and Maj. Dr. Melissa Lacey, in photo, are aerospace science instructors at Bob Jones. CONTRIBUTED

Bob Jones AFJROTC earns ‘Distinguished Unit Award with Merit’

MADISON – In a year when cadets and commanders compiled many honors, the Air Force Junior ROTC or AFJROTC at Bob Jones High School recently was recognized with the “AFJROTC Distinguished Unit Award with Merit” for 2021-2022.

“This is a significant accomplishment for the AFJROTC unit, which celebrated 20 years at Bob Jones this year,” CMSgt. Ellis Clark, Bob Jones Aerospace Instructor, said.

The only other Alabama school to receive the award was Homewood High School.

Col. Johnny McGonigal, who is AFJROTC Director assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base, notified Dr. Maj Melissa Lacey, Senior Aerospace Science Instructor at Bob Jones, about this significant achievement. This award represents the best of the 870 AFJROTC units worldwide.

According to McGonigal, the annual award identifies personal growth and cadets’ accomplishments, instructors’ contributions as mentors and the school and community’s support.

“AFJROTC at Bob Jones has had a tremendous school year and the involvement in the school, community and even the state speaks volume of the caliber of cadets and cadre in this program,” Lacey said about these milestones:

* “Exceeds Standards” rating – Received during unit evaluation in November 2021.

* Volunteering — Cadets participated in 86 community service events for more than 1,400 hours.

* Titles — Archery, marksmanship, drill, Color Guard, physical fitness, orienteering and CyberPatriot teams competed in 20-plus competitions, earning local, state and national titles.

* Honor Guard – Often presents Nation’s Colors at numerous local and state events. “The unit participated in the STEM Day and Air Show at Columbus, Miss., AFB in March, along with an invitation to tour Airbus Helicopters Inc. in April,” Clark said.

Lacey attributes the unit’s success to the cadets, their parents, along with Bob Jones administration and faculty’s support. “We are busy!” Lacey said. “There are months where Chief Clark and I do not get a weekend off. But it’s all worth it to be able to expose our students to opportunities and experiences outside of the classroom.”

In addition, Lacey lauds support from Bob Jones Principal Sylvia Lambert. “There has not been a time where we’ve approached her with an opportunity for our cadets that she’s not supported us,” Lacey said. “Mrs. Lambert’s unwavering support helps make our unit the distinguished unit it is.”

Clark wholeheartedly believes the cadets, instructors and schools are to be commended for earning such a prestigious award. “As Maj. Lacey pointed out, our administration fully supports the activities that our unit participates in; thus, we’re not an autonomously run program.”

A perfect example of this support occurred when the unit decided to hold their first drill competition. Bob Jones administration supported the unit with facilities to conduct the event.

“However, when COVID-19 numbers began to rise, our cadets quickly regrouped and made it a Virtual Drill Competition, as many schools were restricted from travel. It turned out to be a win-win situation for everyone,” Clark said.

Currently, the unit is preparing for their second annual Drill Competition, which will be conducted in person at the school on Nov. 5. “Our cadets will be actively looking for sponsors to help make this event a huge success,” Clark said.

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