The Newton High MCJROTC program has been fielding a drill team since it started in 1996, but the 2008 season was the most successful so far.
Through hard work and sheer determination, this year's drill team amassed a record that will be difficult to top.
It began in August 2007 at Monroe High, where the drill meet was aptly named the "Go Ugly, Early." While none of the teams were quite ready for serious competition, the Rams finished third overall in what was a really fun day.
The first really competitive drill meet was the annual visit to Asheville High. Newton again ended in third place, but this time against stiffer competition from mostly Marine Corps schools.
Besides winning the third place trophy, the team also captured first in two of the unarmed drill events, personnel inspection, first year armed drill and individual knockout competition. Newton received second place in color guard and third in squad armed drill.
After a hard week of practice during fall break, the Rams made their first visit to Ridgeland High in Rossville, taking five first place, two second place and one fourth place trophy en route to winning first place overall at the meet.
Newton swept nearly all of the unit drill events, including armed and unarmed exhibition drill. (Exhibition drill consists of five to seven minute routines executed from start to finish without verbal commands.
The next stop was the annual trip to T. L. Hanna High in Anderson, S.C., which proved to be another spectacular drill performance. It featured both drill and physical fitness events, with first place trophies awarded for each area and an overall trophy that included the totals of both.
Newton finished first in the overall drill events, but did not do as well in the physical events. This resulted in an overall third place finish. In drill, the Rams brought home three first place, two second place and four third place trophies.
During drill meets in Chattanooga and Montgomery, Newton was not on top of its game; however, the team left Montgomery determined to recapture the winning spirit.
The Rams regrouped and got back on track at R. S. Central High in Rutherfordton, N.C., taking third place overall against mostly Marine Corps competition.
First place finishes came in armed and unarmed squad drill and the personnel inspection. The team finished second in color guard and unarmed platoon drill, and third in duet exhibition.
In the final meet of the year at North Forsyth High, Newton's Marine cadets nearly ran the table in drill events and came away with another first place trophy.
The team captured seven first place trophies, including personnel inspection, armed and unarmed platoon regulation, platoon exhibition and both individual and duet exhibition.
With an additional four second place and one third place finish in other events, Newton literally ran away with the meet.
The success of this year's team is largely due to the efforts of the seniors. It was their overriding desire to excel and exceptional leadership that pushed Newton from start to finish.
"Don't tell me today's young people are not capable of achieving great things," said Newton drill team coach Gunnery Sergeant Sherman Smith. "These seniors and this team proves today's youth can do what they demand of themselves and are willing to work for."
Cadet Colonel Courtney Hicks used her dedicated staff of Cadet LtCol Kelley McGill, Cadet Major Kevin Uhlig, Cadet Major Kristi Pierce, Cadet Major Rickiesha Calhoun, Cadet Major Amy Sumpter, Cadet Captain Alaina Poisson and Cadet 1st Lieutenant Justin Simmons to motivate and inspire the 2008 drill team to new heights of excellence.
In fact, it was the seniors who drove the Rams to dedicate four days of fall break to prepare for a new drill meet. Their persistence allowed them to compete in more drill meets this season than in any other.
Compiled by Jason Murdock, sports editor