The Dawson County High School JROTC has a new badge to proudly display on cadets' uniforms.
The program was named an "honor unit with distinction," the highest award given, during a March 28 regional formal inspection.
The inspection team was led by Tony Proulx, a senior training education specialist from the 6th Cadet Command Brigade of the Eastern Region USA, who commended the cadets and instructors.
"The cadets' knowledge of the JROTC curriculum was some of the best that I have ever seen," Proulx said during the debriefing.
Col. Johnnie Sweatte, senior Army instructor for the local JROTC program, credited the cadets' attentiveness.
"The knowledge of what the cadets have learned, academically, is from the classroom instruction," he said. "The only way to prepare for this is to listen and participate in class and then demonstrate what they have learned during our leadership labs and physical fitness."
According to Sweatte, cadets are evaluated in the following areas: Formal in-ranks uniform inspection; drill and ceremony; JROTC curriculum knowledge; and color guard.
In addition, each battalion staff officer was inspected on their respective areas.
The inspections were held both in and outside of the classrooms.
"I was happy that the cadets behaved as well as they did under inspection," said Brooke Dare, a cadet. "It was an hour and a half of just standing there in the hot sun in uniform."
The cadet chain of command reinforces what is taught in the classroom.
"I was very proud of the cadets. They looked very nice and behaved during the inspection," said Makayla Crowder, also a cadet. "They really stepped it up and pulled through for us. I was extremely proud of my squad."
For being a member of an honor unit with distinction, also known as "gold star" status, every cadet will receive a gold star to wear on his or her uniform.
There are two other levels - "blue star" honor unit and "white star" merit unit.
The formal inspection was the first for the high school JROTC unit, which is in its third year.
"It was apparent that everybody was nervous when they first showed up, since this was our first inspection, but they stepped up when the time came," said Chris Reed, a cadet. "We did what we had to do."
The commanding officers said they were proud of the cadets' behavior and knowledge.
"They performed way above expectations during their first formal inspection," Sweatte said. "Most of the cadets I spoke with felt like they did well on the inspection. They are excited about the unit's designation."