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EU getting ready to host 13th annual JROTC event
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East Union High’s JROTC is set to host its 13th annual Drill and Ceremony Competition on Saturday, Feb 2, on the school grounds.

Seventeen high schools from Selma to Seaside have been sent invitations but “we’ll probably get 12 to 14” schools to the competition, said Sgt. 1st Class (ret) Karl Knutsen who has been with the Lancers’ JROTC program for 17 years.

Selma and Seaside are “just about the farthest” among the schools that were invited, “but I’m not holding my breath on Seaside,” Knutsen said.

The rest of the invitations were sent to schools in Fresno, the Concord area, plus those in the local area, i.e., Ripon, Manteca, and Stockton, said Knutsen who started this competition during the 1995-96 school year with the retired colonel who was the JROTC instructor at East Union at the time.

He expects “anywhere from 300-plus students will show up” at the competition, in their uniforms and with their rifles. There will be events held throughout the day, including the obstacle course challenge outside.

The public is invited. The opening ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the Lancer gym with the posting of colors. The competitions will go on to about four o’clock when the closing ceremonies will be held with the presentation of awards to the winners.

Knutsen was happy to report that they started the 2012-2013 school year with 137 students in the JROTC program. The Lancer program has seen better days though.

“Back in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, we’d have 160 to 170 students. But then Weston Ranch opened up and a lot of kids went over there,” he said.

However, “as long as we keep the magic number – 120 or more,” their JROTC program is fine, said Knutsen.

The other officer in the program at East Union is Lt. Col. (retired) Kevin Holeman who is currently in Ft. Knox going through basic course to help update their Lancer JROTC company.

Before they host the big competition on Feb. 2, EU’s JROTC students will be prepping up for a couple of out-of-town events at a couple of schools. They will be in Rio Linda on Saturday, Jan. 19. The following week, on Saturday, Jan. 26, they will be taking part in JROTC competitions hosted by Edison High School in Stockton.

“We should be at both if everything goes well,” Knutsen said.