Shiprock High's JROTC teams hold on to state title for second year in row

Bloomfield High's team also placed in the small schools category

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Members of Shiprock's Marine Corps Junior ROTC Armed Drill Team perform on Monday in the Chieftain Pit at Shiprock High School.
  • The JROTC is a youth character, citizenship and leadership development program for high school students.
  • Shiprock also placed in several team events at this year's competition.
  • Bloomfield High School JROTC competed against Shiprock and took fourth place in the small schools category.

SHIPROCK — Shiprock High School’s Marine Corps JROTC team held on to its state championship title after competing in the New Mexico JROTC Military Skills Meet in Albuquerque this weekend.

The Shiprock team took first place overall in the 5A and below category, according to SHS Marine Corps JROTC Sgt. Maj. Leonard Maldonado. Shiprock High, a 4A school, also won the state championship in their category in the 2017 competition.

JROTC — the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps — is a youth character, citizenship and leadership development program for high school students, according to the Marine Corps program’s website.

Shiprock Marine Corps Junior ROTC student Caitlyn Nez signs her team's New Mexico Activities Association 5A-State Championship banner on Monday at Shiprock High School.

More than 35 students from Shiprock competed against students from a dozen other 5A and below schools in the statewide competition on April 7 and 8 at Albuquerque High School, according to Maldonado. There are 72 students in Shiprock’s JROTC program.

At the two-day competition, teams participated in different events, including color guard, armed and unarmed drills, marksmanship and physical fitness.

Maldonado said the team took first place in several events, including male and female physical fitness and male color guard. The team also took second in female color guard and third in armed and unarmed drills.

Other Four Corners JROTC teams competed in two categories. Bloomfield High School also placed in the 5A and below category, taking second place, according to a Facebook post from the New Mexico Activities Association.

Shiprock’s JROTC team has been training for the competition over the course of the school year. Cheyenne Hunt, a senior who leads the unarmed drill team, said the preparation was worth it, as the competition was stiff this year.

Members of the Shiprock Marine Corps Junior ROTC pose for a portrait on Monday in the Chieftain Pit at Shiprock High School.

“It was tense, because there were a lot of people after us,” Hunt said on Monday.

Maldonado said the program is largely student-driven, as the whole purpose is fostering leadership in high school students.

“It’s really good for them, because it builds a lot of self-confidence among themselves and they get an opportunity to demonstrate actual leadership,” Maldonado said. “They’re in charge.”

Freshman Kobe Sam said participating in the program not only helps students expand their boundaries and skills, but also tests their comfort zones.

“It basically has us out of our shells,” Sam said.
Megan Petersen covers business and education for the Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or