Each year U.S. Army Cadet Command sponsors a nationwide essay contest open to all student-cadets participating in the Army JROTC program. Essays are screened, evaluated and selected for advancement at each level of the competition; local, Brigade /regional level and Cadet Command /national level.

On April 13, Command Sergeant Major Brett Waterhouse, on behalf of the Brigade Commander, was on hand at Van Horn High School to present an award to the cadet whose essay was selected as Best in 3rd Brigade. (The 3rd Brigade area of responsibility includes the greater midwest area of the U.S., and covers at 10-state region.) CSM Waterhouse is the senior enlisted advisor to the Brigade Commander and the senior enlisted soldier in the Brigade area of responsibility.

Cadet Nicholas Hickman a member of the Corps of Cadets at Van Horn was honored as the Brigade level winner of the annual essay contest. CSM Waterhouse presented Cadet Hickman with a Brigade challenge coin, as well as a congratulatory note from the Brigade Commander. Hickman’s essay will now advance to the national level where it and 12 others will be screened for selection as the Cadet Command level winning essay.

The writing prompt for this year’s contest was, “100 Years of JROTC: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.” (JROTC was established as a part of the Morrell Act of 1916 during a time when the U.S. was preparing for possible entry in the World War I conflict in Europe. Whereas originally intended as a means to prepare for conflict, JROTC instruction is now focused on developing citizenship education skills, team building, leadership development and service learning/community engagement)

Cadet Hickman is an academic senior, set to graduate in May. He plans to attend local community college to pursue a police science AA degree in hopes of going into local law enforcement. He has participated in the JROTC program all 4 years in high school and currently serves as the Trails West Cadet Battalion Commander. The Trails West Battalion includes all Independence School District cadets participating in JROTC from William Chrisman, Truman and Van Horn High Schools.

In addition to presenting Cadet Hickman the Brigade level award, CSM Waterhouse also addressed the assembled cadets on the importance of being a good writer, able to clearly and concisely present ideas, persuasive arguments and share information efficiently in written form. Further he provided some advice regarding the importance of developing a personal development plan which students can use as a guide to strive for excellence in pursuit of their personal dreams and ambitions for after graduation. He challenged each student to set high expectations for themselves and work hard to achieve or exceed those expectations en route to fulfilling their life ambition.