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MOLENA, Ga--It was a cloudy, rainy start to the 2013 National Raider Challenge Championships but by the end of Nov. 1, more than 1,100 cadets  from 82 high schools across the nation—a record number—had registered for the event.


The host school, Cedar Shoals High School from Athens, Ga., spent most of the day setting up the course at the Gerald I. Lawhorn Scouting Base and laying out equipment.

While Clark’s set-up team finished the preparations, participants from all over the U.S. started to check-in.

East Valley High School from Yakima, Wash., traveled across the U.S. for only the second time to show their competition that they have what it takes to take home a championship.

This was Grant County’s first trip to the national event.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Duffee, Grant County High School’s senior JROTC instructor, said that although the trip to Molena is a long drive and is pricey, it’s important to teach young people discipline, respect and dignity for themselves and for the people around them and appreciation for community service.

“They also need to learn that they shouldn’t judge someone just because of where they are from, what their religion, or what they look like,” he said. “They get to learn about team work, respect for themselves and their competition, they get to test themselves against the training we did—and I am here because if they do well, Grant County gets a big boost. They can say that these achievements are theirs too and the great things these kids do shine on the community.”

Grant County finished 22nd out of the 82 High School teams and more than 1,100 Cadets registered to compete in the Raider Nationals, which gives them a ranking this year 22nd nationally out of better than 1,848 JROTC units nationally.  

The GCHS Army JROTC “Dog Soldiers” were faced with many opportunities and challenges throughout the two-day competition, which was designed to get them to quit or to slow them down and divide the team. Each challenge had to be overcome with determination, skill, perseverance, teamwork and selfless service.

“Every team we competed against was a championship team in their own right and performed in a exceptional manner,” Duffee said. “However, the Dog Soldiers understood this and turned in a superlative performance to finish 22nd in the Nation which is also the top 1 percent nationally.”

Duffee likened this competition to going from the high school level of competition and by passing the Collegiate Division 1 level of athletic competition and going straight and competing in the NFL or NBA.  

“Our cadets now understand what right looks like and have told me that they are willing to accept that challenge and be better prepared for next year even though they were very competitive this year,” Duffee said.

The GCHS “Dog Soldiers” travel to the Jacksboro, Tenn. Raider competition on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23.