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NJROTC Cadet - Strong work ethic pays big dividends - Central Oregonian

March 4, 2013
Crook County High School

Success means different things to different people, but for Lieutenant Lane Rutz, it is the reward for hard work and academic achievement.

The Crook County High School student was recently awarded the 2013 Gilliam Award from the national Navy Junior ROTC citizenship program. The award is given to students from programs in each region who are well-rounded, as well as academically talented. They are also judged on their overall academic record, as well as their participation in school activities. Only one student from each region is chosen for the award.

Navy Commander and NJROTC instructor for Crook County High School Russ Robison commented that there are 50 units in the Northwest, and more than 100 applications are sent in each year. One cadet from each NJROTC region in 10 areas of the United States and overseas are chosen, which puts Rutz in the top 10 cadets in the nation for this award.

“Out of 680 high schools in the nation and 10 areas, he is one of 10 in the whole nation. That is a pretty exclusive thing,” noted Robison.

Rutz will also be awarded a $1,000 scholarship as part of the Gilliam Award.

“It’s a great achievement, and it makes you feel pretty proud that out of the whole Northwest, I was selected to win it,” exclaimed Rutz.

The award, however, does pose a quandary for the young cadet. He has the opportunity to attend one of two reputable universities or academies, where he has been accepted. He has an NJROTC National Scholarship to Oregon State University, which would cover all tuition, fees, books, and a tutor. He would study mechanical engineering, and then go into aviation and flight school. He also has the option to attend the Merchant Marine Academy, where his expenses would be 100 percent paid for. He would get a Bachelor’s degree in shipyard management and marine engineering, and upon graduation, he would go into a career in aviation.

Robison said that he is also still in competition for The Naval Academy as well.

“He’s trying to figure it out, and asking me what do I do? The answer is, it’s your choice,” said Robison.

He added that the Gilliam Award weighed heavily into Rutz’s chances for acceptance into the latter two choices. Robison is in his fifth year as an NJROTC instructor at Crook County High School, and he has been an NJROTC instructor for a total of 11 years. He said it is only the second time one of his students has won the award.

Rutz had to write an essay to demonstrate how well he could communicate in writing, of which Robison noted, “The first time in 11 years, I made no changes,” he said of the essay. “He (Rutz) writes well. I made not one change.”

Other considerations for the award are the applicant’s community involvement, grade-point average, and involvement in their school and community. According to Robison, “Past winners of the Gilliam Award were individuals who were well-rounded, as well as highly-academically talented,  and were judged on their overall academic record and participation in school activities.”

Rutz has been involved in My Future My Choice, Link Crew, and many NJROTC community projects. He holds down an overall grade-point-average of 3.85, and a tough academic load including three Advanced Placement classes, including AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP writing Composition, as well as advanced biology.  He works on a farm for Paul and Ann Kasberger and Travis McCoy during the fall, spring, and summer. He is also involved in the NJROTC program, helping Robison and Master Chief Instructor Donny Jackson in program operations. Robison makes sure that he prioritizes academics, even if that means he might miss an NJROTC event.

In addition to his academic achievements, he plays basketball for CCHS.

“In everything he does, he gives 100 percent,” commented Jackson. “He never misses a practice or a game.”

For students who are beginning their high school career, Rutz recommends that they focus on their grades, take challenging classes, and have a full schedule. He added that not having free time to sit around and think about alternative choices makes it much easier to stay away from trouble.

“It’s tough when your friends have a free period and they are talking about long lunches,” he said. “You have to know that what you are doing right now is going to help you later.”

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