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News from 2023-2024

Posted: July 7, 2023

La Cueva Students Take on Best of the Best in D.C.

Marine Corps JROTC Academic Team competed in Academic Bowl Championship.

Incoming junior Emily Schmidt and her three teammates from La Cueva High School knew the competition in Washington, D.C., would be intense.

La Cueva’s Marine Corps JROTC Academic Team would be going up against the best of the best in a national competition that tests cadets’ knowledge in math, science, language arts, current events, and several other topics.  

The team, which also includes incoming seniors Aiden Stephenson, Sasha Palko, and Walter Zacherl, studied up on current events and, over the summer they each participated in practice rounds.

When the 2023 JROTC Academic Bowl Championship came in late June, they were quizzed on European wars, asked to name the most populous city in a given state, and given math problems to solve on the spot.

A moderator read questions, and each team buzzed in when it knew the answer. The first person to buzz would have five seconds to confer with teammates before responding to the question.

La Cueva prevailed in the first two rounds but was eliminated in the final event that would have gotten it into the semifinals.

La Cueva’s team was one of only eight Marine Corps JROTC Academic Bowl teams in the nation to advance to the final competition in Washington, D.C., out of a field of 110 teams. The eight teams that advanced received all-expense paid trips to the competition.

La Cueva’s team was the only JROTC program in New Mexico that qualified for the national competition, which was held on the campus of The Catholic University of America from June 23-27. It was sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps JROTC and was conducted by the College Options Foundation.

“Just making it to D.C. was a huge privilege,” Schmidt said. Beyond competing, she and her teammates visited the National Archives, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, among others. Schmidt said her favorite was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

Gunnery Sergeant Oliver Rodriguez, who worked with the team, said competitions like this expose students to challenging material they might have never seen before. Organizers of the competition also note that it helps student cultivate leadership and academic abilities.