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MCJROTC students heading to San Diego

Special Photo. Five Heritage High School students are taking a trip to San Diego to compete in the National Youth Physical Fitness Competition against other JROTC students. Pictured, from left, are Mario Gaines, Joey Kim, Andrew Connors, Micah Worsham and Mitch Clemens.

Special Photo. Five Heritage High School students are taking a trip to San Diego to compete in the National Youth Physical Fitness Competition against other JROTC students. Pictured, from left, are Mario Gaines, Joey Kim, Andrew Connors, Micah Worsham and Mitch Clemens.

CONYERS -- Five Heritage High School students in the Marine Corps JROTC program are busy working out this week.

They aren't only trying to stay in shape, as they usually would, they are preparing for an intense competition.

Mario Gaines, Joseph Kim, Andrew Connors, Micah Worsham and Mitchell Clemens are heading to San Diego on Wednesday to participate in the National Youth Physical Fitness Competition against other JROTC students from across the United States.

In March, the 158 JROTC students at Heritage took a physical fitness test that involves push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, a shuttle run and a standing broad jump, as is required of the group twice a year.

"It's a little intense," said Clemens, a ninth-grade student.

The school submitted the top five female and male students' scores to the JROTC Region 2 headquarters, which included schools in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. After being tallied, Heritage's group placed first overall among the other 49 region schools.

"It's an honor," Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul Mackey said. "I didn't think we had a chance to be honest. It's something they ought to feel good about."

Some of the students were a little surprised, too.

"I just gave it my 100 percent," said Kim, a 10th-grader. "I wasn't expecting to go to San Diego."

Because of the honor, the students received an all expenses paid trip to San Diego, where they will compete against top schools from other regions across the nation who are in JROTC programs with the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Army.

"I think it's going to be a good experience," Clemens said. "We'll be going out there competing with everybody, and we'll get to be more social and learn more about the program."

To prepare, the five students have been working out individually every day and working out together once per week, as they normally would do.

"Since we found out (in early April), we've been working on their weaknesses," Mackey said. "Some do 50 or 60 push-ups and can only do 60 sit-ups, but they need to do 100."

Each day, the students have been aiming to do 100 sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups, in addition to running a mile.

"I'm just looking forward to doing my best," Kim said. "I'm not looking forward to seeing all those other super-strong guys out there."

Earlier this school year, 54 of the 158 students in Heritage's MCJROTC program also took a trip to the JROTC headquarters in Quantico, Va., and several sites in Washington, D.C., where they visited the Marine Corps Museum, the White House and other famous landmarks over the five-day trip.