Attawaytogoto the John L.Foye drill team

Take a moment and dream. Four years ago, Bladen Community College applied for and was granted Division I athletic status. And just a few months ago, the BCC Knight-Eagles were crowned national champions of the Football Championship Series after knocking off the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.

There would be a parade of astronomical proportion.

Seem crazy?

Not to the students, faculty and administration of the Paul R. Bown Leadership Academy. You can read the full story in Chrysta Carroll’s story on page 1A of today’s Bladen Journal, but we will recap and offer some kudos here.

In March, Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., to participate in the General John J. Pershing Memorial Drill Competition, held at the Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex. The academy — only its fourth year of existence — competed against 23 other units from around the country and was one of only two high school units. All other units were from universities like Clemson, Appalachian State, Kansas State, Bowling Green State, and four-time consecutive reigning champion Toledo (Ohio) State.

It was a David versus Goliath situation and, once again, David won. It was the first time in the history of the competition — which has been going on for more than 100 years — that a high school team earned the national title.

The John L. Foye Drill Team from Paul R. Brown actually brought home several awards. The charter school’s drill team — in addition to winning the overall title — earned second place in Color Guard, commanded by Iyanna McAllister; took second place in Regulation Squad Armed under the command of Maria Baza; and Cadet Elijah Hayes took third place in Exhibition Individual.

We can’t give these young competitors enough attawaytogos for what they have accomplished against long odds. But we also know from having witnessed their talent that these competitors were always meant for bigger and better things.

That says a lot about what Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy — North Carolina’s first military charter school — is doing in Elizabethtown and Bladen County. The school’s four-pronged mission of excellence in academics, character, discipline and athletics should be a model for other organizations and educational facilities far and wide.

We also send our applause to Lt. Col. Carl Lloyd, the commander of cadets at the school, who has helped guide the drill team to it national champion status. And Lloyd knows exactly what the accomplishment means.

“For the school, it’s huge, because little Paul R. Brown is now known for its drill team,” he said. “It has given the cadets motivation to start getting ready for next year. They now know all those college students are gunning for them.”

Not only that, but it will give those students a solid foundation to build on for a successful future. And their community is proud of them. There should be a parade.



“Obstacles are the raw materials of great accomplishment.” (Tommy Newberry)