PACE — Pace High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has plenty to celebrate.

Its members competed in a national competition April 7 and 8 at NAS Pensacola, where they achieved recognition for their talents.

NJROTC is a program designed for students to develop self-discipline, self-confidence and leadership skills. Students who successfully complete three years of Naval Science can enter the armed services at pay grade E-3, or as an E-2 with 2 years of Naval Science.

Pace’s NJROTC competed at nationals in Pensacola against 25 schools. This alone was an honor for the students since 583 schools must compete for the chance to qualify for the national athletic, academic and drill championship.

From the 583 schools, the unit from Pace took fifth place overall.

Abigail Bahlau placed fifth out of 200 females in sit-ups; John Hammond placed eighth out of 400 cadets in academics; Will Hudson placed fifth in Armed Knockout; and James Wood took second place in Unarmed Knockout.

Unarmed Basic, led by James Wood, tied for second place; Armed Basic, led by Chase Manning, placed fourth; Color Guard, led by Justin Gehrke, placed fifth; the 16 by 100, led by Neko Brookshire, placed second, and the 8 by 200, also led by Neko Brookshire, placed third.

These accomplishments brought a sense of pride to students in PHS NJROTC.

“Over the past year, I've had the distinct pleasure of serving as the operations officer of my high school's NJROTC unit,” Cadet Patrick Cahill said. “Though my graduation is over a month away, I feel that my four years as a cadet have passed by in an instant. In that instant, I came to reflect on the values that make me a citizen, a student and a cadet.

“My four years as a cadet have contributed to a better understanding of leadership. I know now that I should lead from the front and lead by example. From four years as a cadet, I have been taught the value and honor of serving my community. My four years have taught me what it's like to be part of something greater. I've learned how to work in a team and accomplish a goal. Most importantly, my four years as a cadet have taught me to not only set goals but (also) reach them.

“So when I'm asked, ‘What do four years of NJROTC mean to you?’ I can answer absolutely and infallibly [that] four years as a cadet makes a leader for life."