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Reading Eagle - 12/2/2022

Dec. 2—Reading High School's Marine Corps JROTC has achieved its second national recognition this year.

The corps was presented with the 2022 Spirit Banner for its performance in the National High School Drill Team Competition, April 22 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The program also earned designation as a Naval Honor School for the 2021-22 school year.

"The Reading School District could not be prouder of Reading High School'sMarine Corps JROTC," the district said in a news release Wednesday.

The Spirit Banner is an annual rotating award recognizing the school program that best glorifies its unit, service, JROTC in general and, especially, the National High School Drill Team Championships.

"We were all shocked to hear that we won," Destiny Fowler, a Reading High senior and JROTC battalion commander, said in the release. "We put our all into being at nationals. It wasn't easy after COVID ... we lost a lot of members and had to rebuild from scratch."

The Spirit Banner award is atypical in that the winner cannot be measured or evaluated using any single criteria, according to Sports Network International, the organization that sponsors the national competition.

Instead, the award is based on a compilation of positive attributes, including conduct, words and deeds, that make a drill program stand out as unique at the national championships.

"The program (Reading's JROTC) didn't win this award through their drill prowess, though they are always competitive wherever they go," reads a statement on the SNI website. "They represent their school and their program with purpose. They seem to display at all times that they understand that conduct on and off the deck is as important as the final scoring."

According to SNI, Reading High's cadets glorify the JROTC program with their actions and deeds and serve as outstanding ambassadors for the nationals and other JROTC competitions.

"This program is led by the kind of instructors who ask how you are doing and wait for the answer," the website says. "They take the time to have a great conversation about their kids, their program, the differences that have been made. They are a classy group."

Sgt. Maj. Laureano Perez has been senior military instructor for Reading High's corps since 2020. He is assisted by Master Sgt. William Kelly, who came onboard shortly after Reading High's JROTC was founded in 1997.

The corps has operated the annual Christmas on the Mountain holiday lights display at Hillside Playground for the past eight years.


(c)2022 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.)

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