The Leadership Officers Training Corps Unit (LOTC) from Galena Park Middle School has qualified for the Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Lee Jr. National Middle School Drill Competition at Forester Field House in Dallas ISD on Saturday, March 31.
The GPMS unit, under the direction of Staff Sgt. (retired) Darrow Adams, has won a total of 94 trophies, including four overall championships, four runners-up trophies and two third-place overall trophies in addition to numerous first-place trophies for individual drills such as armed inspection, armed regulation, armed exhibition, unarmed inspection, male color guard inspection, female color guard inspection and physical fitness to name just a few.
A typical drill competition consists of up to 30 precision military drill assignments, either armed or unarmed, for the overall group, male drill team or the female drill team. Student commanders lead the cadets through the different competitions, Sgt. Adams is not allowed to “coach” the cadets from the sidelines.
Galena Park ISD instituted the LOTC program at Cunningham Middle School in 1998. Since its modest beginnings with fewer than two dozen students, the program has grown into one that encompasses four schools with more than a thousand students. The instructors are either retired or currently serving military personnel, selected for their ability to motivate children.
The program focuses on seven core values: Loyalty; Duty; Respect; Selfless Service; Honor; Integrity; and Personal Courage. Although it is styled after the military, the program is not a 'boot camp'. In fact, some of its alumni have gone on to be among the top graduates of Galena Park High School and North Shore Senior High. Many of its alumni are attending top colleges around the country, while some have opted to serve their country in uniform.
“The discipline, precision and attention to detail as shown by the Galena Park Middle School Drill team are indicative of the programs in our middle schools. By offering young people positive alternatives for spending their time, I think we are making a difference in their lives,” said Col. Jim Beesley, who is the district coordinator of LOTC and is also the director of transportation. “Young people are faced with big choices every day. The LOTC program has given them some tools to cope with dilemmas and make right choices.”
Cadets in the Galena Park Middle School LOTC Unit show off their hardware.
The female color guard is shown at a recent drill practice.
The armed male color guard gets ready for practice.