By Sgt. Michael Farrar, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS – Junior Reserve Officer Training cadets from St. Tammany and Washington Parish high schools participated in an All Sports Day event sponsored by the Louisiana National Guard at Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, La., April 6.
Each of the high school groups took part in team competitions such as Cabbage Ball, plus various track and field events. However, the LANG Blackhawk helicopter rides over the countryside were the highlight for the students.
“It was amazing … a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” said Zachary Pickett a ninth grader in the Covington High Navy JROTC program.
Another excited high school cadet was Nick Ruoss of Lakeshore High’s Army JROTC who got a whole new perspective in the Blackhawk.
“It got pretty cold at some points when we went up high. Other times we would go pretty far to the side to where we were perpendicular to the ground so it got really fun. It was really cool to see everything from that far up,” Ruoss said.
Participating schools at the event included: Lakeshore High School, Fontainebleau High School, Covington High School, Pearl River High School, Franklinton High School, Slidell High School, Northshore High School and Salmen High School.
Sgt. First Class Richard McSpadden, a LANG recruiter and chief event organizer, was pleased that Guard assets beyond recruiting resources were critical in making the day unforgettable for the students.
“The Guard provided the air lifts today, all the food and all the trophies,” McSpadden said.
Paul Vorenkamp, a retired LANG officer and the senior Army JROTC instructor at Lakeshore High School said he was confident that the Guard’s logistical support would pay off for the cadets.
“The Guard guys have done a wonderful job here. We’ve been working on this for about two and a half months. To have the aviation guys come out here and conduct flight ops takes a lot out of their time,” he said. “The key thing is making a sports event for the kids; something fun – something to have the military people link with them.”
McSpadden agreed that student fun was the goal, but added that the LANG personnel were also excited to be a part of the Saturday event.
“We’re thrilled as recruiters and drilling Soldiers to be out here just to share this time with all of these cadets,” McSpadden said.