For the first time ever, four cadets from Buena High School in Sierra Vista not only tested for the Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Leadership Bowl but qualified to go to the championship in Washington, D.C. this summer.
“We are the only school in Arizona history to ever go, and they have been doing this for around 10 years I think. This year it was implemented so every school from across the nation had to have a team compete. Buena had never competed before this year, till they made it mandatory,” said team leader JROTC Cadet Lt. Col. Jesse Bustamante, 17.
The team had to pass two online qualifying tests beforehand. The tests were about 70 multiple-choice questions and timed. The four had to take the test as a group.
From the first exam, the judges took the top 50 percent. After the second online exam, only the top 40 teams were chosen to visit Washington D.C. for the national competition.
“For you to understand how big this was we were going against 1,500 leadership bowl teams originally, then it was 750 teams, then down to the top 40,” said Cadet Master Sgt. Danny Matchette, 16.
In D.C. the tests were compiled in the same way, except this time the team could not talk for the entire test. They were required to pick the best answer but without discussing it aloud.
“It is difficult to have to come to a consensus in 30 seconds without talking. Sometime you would read a paragraph and only have 60 seconds to read it and pick an answer, so it was challenging,” Bustamante said.
“For the non-speaking portion of the exam we would all read the questions and write out any debates we had, and pointed at answers till we got a consensus,” Matchette explained.
The team spent five days in Washington D.C. not only competing but learning about America’s history as well. The competition only announced first, second and third place winners but, “all the teams like to think they got fourth place,” Matchette said.
After the competition was complete their job was to go around D.C., and learn and have fun, Bustamante said, “We toured almost everything there. Every monument and memorial we went to, they had tasks for the students to complete.
“There were 160 cadets there, and we all left D.C. with a presentation based on what we learned and an essay,” Matchette added.
When asked what made them successful in the qualifying round and competition portion, Bustamante said to, “become as close as you possibly can for the future teams on their teamwork. And specifically sit down and make a few practice tests within your team and practice being able to take multiple-choice tests as a team without talking because it is harder than you think. We each studied our own books, and you had to really study personal material.”
The group studied about four hours a week since February.
“I enjoyed it; it’s too bad I won’t be able to do this next year because we will both be seniors and can’t join the team. But we will help next year’s team prepare,” Matchette stated. “While preparing their communication systems they must come up with a system for disagreement; it will happen and you need to find a way to solve it.”
This particular group solved it by writing down reasons or went with majority if it was three-on-one. “Hard work and determination got us to D.C., and it was the trip of a lifetime,” Bustamonte said.
“We learned so much about teamwork, and the importance of communication. It is very important to communicate effectively and quickly, and that’s the hard part. Because usually when you communicate with people, you can either do one or the other but being able to just say no; a, b, c, and discuss it in 10 seconds, your team has to be very close and practice that a lot,” Bustamonte added.
The other two team members who competed were Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Klotz and Cadet 1st Sgt. Victoria Jarret. They could not be reached for comment.